Being time-poor is perhaps the biggest hurdle in being an effective manager in an early childhood education and care setting. So many people say “If I didn’t get so many interruptions, I might actually be able to get something done!”
In this post we explore and look at time-saving tools to significantly improve communication with Educators / Teachers and families. These tools can literally save you hours each day.
1. Reduce interruptions by talking to your staff more
Having regular catch-ups with your team 1:1 will mean less interruptions. Ideally, you should meet with each of your staff once a week for 5 to 7 minutes. In this time, you can give them your undivided attention, find out how their weeks been, follow up on any feedback and check in with them. As your weekly meetings become more and more regular, you’ll find your Educators / Teachers interrupt you less. They hold their ideas waiting for the weekly meeting. You can even get them an A4 exercise book where they can jot down their ideas during the week
Make sure the right person does the right job at the right time. You shouldn’t be the person ordering nappies and baby wipes. Having a manager ordering stock is a poor use of resources. Giving an up-and-coming staff member the responsibility of managing the stock levels is a more appropriate use of human resources. You can relieve that staff member whilst they order supplies and you can use that time to coach and mentor staff in the room.
3. Have morning briefings
How many times do you have to deliver the same message each morning? First into the babies room, then into the toddlers, then to the preschoolers and don’t forget the kitchen and the office. Take the time to have morning briefings., Do them over an intercom system. The room leaders listens on the intercom to the morning briefing, often no longer than three or four minutes. Then they’re responsible for passing on the message to their teams. Absent children, messages from parents, lunches or changes in shifts, they can all be delivered over the morning briefing. At Farran Street we call them the morning POW-WOW.
4. Schedule other people
At Farran Street, we invite potential families to make an appointment to tour the service. Tours are conducted every Monday between 9 and 11am. If potential families pop into the service outside these times, they are greeted and invited to make an appointment for the following Monday. Sales reps, booksellers, handy men, potential families, everyone needs to make an appointment. Reminder emails are sent two days before meetings to minimise no-shows.
5. Use technology to save time
Create a closed Facebook group to help your Educators / Teachers keep in touch. You can post rosters, notices, questions and reminders all to the Facebook group. Staff will receive notifications when the group has been updated, and you’ll be able to see who’s viewed the material. A closed Facebook group is just like the whiteboard in the staff room, only this way, it can be accessed from anywhere at any time and it becomes a discussion rather than just a way of delivering messages.
6. Schedule reactive time
If you have eight hours of office time and you know that normally you’re interrupted at least a quarter of the time, then you should only be scheduling six hours’ worth of work. In the morning, list down all the things you plan to complete that day and leave time for interruptions and reactive tasks. This way you won’t feel frustrated or demoralised when you have to deal with an issue immediately.
7. Use geo-reminders on your iPhone
The iPhone’s reminders App is pretty handy., Add in its location-based abilities and it becomes an absolute lifesaver. You can set up reminder alerts to go off at a certain place. For example, if you keep forgetting to collect those art and craft supplies, your iPhone can remind you the next time you’re within 100 meters of the supermarket. It can also remind you of things before you leave the house or set a reminder to take work home before you leave for the day.