The start of the new school year is full of excitement and a bit of anxiety about having enough time to do everything we need or want to do. One of the ways to take control of our time is to use technology to automate or at least streamline some of the things that we all have to do. Here are ten time-saving ways to use technology in the new school year.
Use Smart Replies
If you use Gmail or any G Suite-based email account, enable the Smart Replies function. Smart Replies will predict what you want to write in response to an email in your inbox. Using Smart Replies saves me a ten to twenty seconds per reply. Taking an average of fifteen seconds per email for twenty messages in a day and you’ve gained five minutes. Watch this video to learn how to enable Smart Replies in your inbox.
Use Canned Responses
This is similar to using Smart Replies but instead of letting Google guess what you’re going to write, you actually create replies that you save for reuse at any time. This video will show you how to use Canned Responses in Gmail.
If you’re an Outlook user, you can create canned responses to use to answer frequently asked questions in your email. Here’s a good video overview of how to create and use canned responses in Outlook.
Give Quizzes in Google Forms or Microsoft Forms
If you have to give multiple choice or similar quizzes, use Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. Both will let you create a quiz that your students can take online and have grades automatically calculated for you. An overview of creating a quiz in Microsoft Forms can be watched here. A series of Google Forms tutorials can be seen in this playlist. This is the video you need to watch to get started.
Use a Quiz Scanner App
If giving quizzes online isn’t practical in your classroom, use a quiz scanner app to quickly grade paper-based quizzes. Quick Key and Gradecam offer free apps for scanning quizzes to tally quickly tally results.
Create Email Filters
Not every email needs an immediate response. Not every email needs to be stored in your primary inbox where it clutters and distracts from the task at hand. Create email filters to organize and prioritize the messages landing in your inbox. This video and this video will show you show how to create filters in Gmail and other G Suite-based email accounts. Outlook users, this video is a good place for you to start to learn about using filters and folders.
Schedule Your Social Media Posts
If you use social media to post updates for school or your class, you can save time by using a tool like Hootsuite to schedule a series of updates at once. Instead of going to all of the social media sites that you update individually, you can do it in bulk from your Hootsuite dashboard.
Schedule Blog Posts
Whether you have a personal blog or a professional blog, use the scheduling tool so that you can write when you have time but update on a consistent schedule. If you use WordPress, Blogger, or Edublogs watch this video to learn how to schedule blog posts.
Enable Reminders in Your Calendar or Task Manager
I find that if I use Google Calendar and or Google Keep to schedule reminders for myself I’m less likely to end up scrambling at the end of the day to get something done in a rush that I could have done more efficiently earlier in the day. Here’s a short overview of how to create task lists in Outlook. Here’s a video featuring ten Google Keep functions.
Use Scheduling in Your LMS of Choice
Every popular LMS contains a scheduling tool that you can use to write up a list of assignments and have them distributed on a schedule over the course of a week or month.
Block Yourself from Social Media Sites
Those times when we check Facebook for “just a minute” are never just a minute and they quickly suck time out of our days without adding much, if any, value to them. Use a Chrome extension like ReCall Study Time or Stay Focusd (intentionally misspelled) to limit the amount of time that you allow yourself to spend on social media sites.
Just Say No
This one doesn’t involve technology at all unless you happen to set a reminder on your phone to “practice saying no.” This might be the hardest time-saver to implement, but you have to practice protecting your time and avoiding commitment creep. There’s simply not enough time in the day to say yes to every request to help with this or help with that. I’m not suggesting shirking your real responsibilities, but before adding another commitment to your list ask yourself if you really have the time to do it without compromising time for the things that are truly important to you.
Professional Development Webinar This Week!
This week I’m hosting Intro to Animation and Green Screen Videos. Register for this webinar to learn everything you need to know to make green screen videos and animated videos in your classroom this year.