Happy January and 2024!
As a teacher, it always amazed me how quickly January would arrive. I remember setting up my classroom in the summer thinking, “January is so far away! There’s so much to do between now and then”
Yet, without fail, January would always sneak up on my students and me.
The new year is a beautiful time for setting goals, reevaluating priorities, and resetting our personal lives as well as our classroom communities.
What if we viewed our teacher time budget through the financial lens of “give, save, spend?” Especially as Christian educators, we know that our time in school and outside of school is a gift from God. Without a plan, it can feel like we’re moving from one moment to the next without any real focus or goal.
As you wind down your Christmas holiday, set aside some time to reflect on your time. Just like January sneaks up on us, every year, May will sneak up on us, too. Rather than ending the year feeling like time has slipped through your fingers, start 2024 with a plan and time budget!
Budgeting Time using Give-Save-Spend
Start with the end in mind.
When May arrives, what do you want to be true about your time?
Use this question to funnel thoughts, ideas, and actions through. We’ll start with the big picture before moving into the day-to-day realization of your budget.
Then, within each “give-save-spend” bucket, we’ll look at spiritual, personal, and professional growth plans.
- What are 1-2 areas in your Christian community that you can commit to serving this year?
- If you already serve in 2 areas, consider saying, “No” to other areas. It’s easy to forget that teaching, especially in a Christian school, is a ministry. It’s okay to say, “No” to more than 2 church serving commitments!
- What are 1-2 ways you can say, “Yes,” to a family member or friend each month? If you’re married, consider 1-2 ways to give to your spouse each day. These can be little acts of service, if done daily, or more significant acts if done weekly/monthly. This mode of giving is a beautiful way to reflect God’s love to our immediate community.
- What is 1 area in your school day that you can give time to that’s different than classroom teaching? This might be out of your comfort zone, but I guarantee that giving time outside of required teaching tasks is essential for building and maintaining healthy community with students, parents, and coworkers.
This might be eating lunch with kids 1-2 days a week, going to extracurricular events to see kids and support them, coaching a team, or playing with kids at recess 3x a month.
Save & Spend (I’m putting these together since many save and spend activities are similar).
- Are you part of a local church community and small group? If not, consider joining one as a way to be filled by community with other Christians.
- What does time with the Lord look like? Is there time each day for you to read His Word, pray, and grow in relationship with Him?
- Likewise, do you have time set aside for Sabbath each week? If not, consider starting with a 1/2 day. This will look different for everyone, so I recommend reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.
- Consider setting aside 1-2 hours, once a week, to pursue a hobby outside of teaching (teaching ISN’T a hobby, but a lot of people treat it as such when they bring home school work).
- Ask yourself, “What have I put on the back burner after starting teaching? If I were to revisit it, would I be filled up with creativity and joy?”
- Consider taking 1 day off from school as a “Day with God” or “Solitude” day. On my “Day with God,” I’ve gone hiking, had extended quiet time with the Lord, or fasted from media consumption.
- Then, as you think about “saving,” think through any professional development opportunities you want to take part in this year. Select 2-3 main topics that you’re interested in and seek out PD that furthers your growth in those topics.
- I also recommend building time into your day that focuses on developing as a teacher with your team teachers and school community. This might be built into your school day, but if not, you might do this one prep period a week or one day a week after school.
After mapping out your larger goals, take time to map out a rough estimate of your time spent on each goal during the week. This is where we can focus on the budgeting portion, being sure to budget what we have and not spend what we don’t have.
It’s amazing how much time we seem to have AFTER budgeting! The same is true with a financial budget. Dave Ramsey notes that after completing a budget, you may feel like you’ve given yourself a raise. Every dollar, or in this case, every hour, is accounted for rather than mindlessly spent.
The great thing about budgeting time is that EVERYONE has the same amount of time to work with each day!
Now, to the budgeting! I like working with 1 hour slots and doing it by hand. If you prefer a different method, go for it!
- Start by putting in your non-negotiables (work, concrete family responsibilities, etc.).
2. Then, put in your spiritual give, save, spend time allotments.
3. After that, place personal, then professional.
Your time budget might look something like this. Granted, I’ve only put in a few items, but it feels like I’ve given myself a “time raise!”
I also like to leave margin between events. This accounts for drive time or unexpected events that might pop up at school or at home. When you budget your time like this, though, you’ll begin to see that there is either more or less time than you thought.
It’s a wonderful tool for evaluating what you’ve said, “Yes” to and what you can say, “No” to.
May you be encouraged and refreshed as you start 2024 with your teacher time budget!