Time Management Tips for First Responders

Time Management Tips for First Responders

In the fast-paced world of first responders, every second counts. Effective time management isn’t just a skill – it’s a lifeline. We’ve put together the essential time management tips that will help you navigate multiple demands, changing priorities, and importantly, a life outside of work.

Tip #1: Plan ahead.

Look at your work schedule within the context of family and social commitments. Then create a master calendar that has everything on it at-a-glance.

  • Write down your work schedule, family time, “you” time, and social commitments. Plug them into your calendar. Pro Tip: If you’re using a computer, you can color code by work and non-work time.
  • The master calendar doesn’t need detail. It’s an overview for your reference.
  • Note any larger projects/events that you will need to address (work or otherwise), and schedule the tasks associated with those into your calendar. This helps you break down a large commitment into smaller bite-sized tasks. Add a deadline to each task.
  • Place this in a calendar that you see daily. This way you won’t overcommit or forget about meetings or tasks, and you can review and adjust as needed.

Tip #2: Set priorities.

Work can be quiet or chaotic for first responders. You’ll want to prepare, knowing that at any given moment, you might need to change course.

  • Set your work goals for the week. Some people use a spreadsheet with columns for tasks, person responsible, and status.
  • Organize each goal by priority: high or low. You can use color coding to provide a visual distinction.
  • Use this weekly list to create a daily checklist. Put high priorities first on that list.
  • Anticipate potential problems and prepare contingency plans. Schedules and commitments frequently change, so allow extra time for tasks.

Tip #3: Establish a routine.

You may not be able to control the emergencies, but you can determine how you will tackle the workload. Creating a regular routine can help.

  • Start your day in a way that will energize you mentally and physically. Give yourself enough time to eat and hydrate before a shift.
  • Tackle the top priority items first when you get to work.
  • Leave the lower priorities for when you have extra time. That way you won’t invest too much in noncritical tasks.
  • For the first week or so, keep a daily activity log. This will help you track what you’re doing. Then you can review and adjust your schedule as needed.

Tip #4: Minimize distractions at work.

It’s easy to get sidelined by distractions, from conversations in the office to emails, texts, and social media. Pay attention to the distractions that keep you from being productive, then take steps to minimize them.

  • Turn off email notifications or sounds from your computer and phone.
  • Set a time each day where you will check messages for a specified amount of time only. You may want to do it every hour on the hour for a 5-minute period, or if communications are less critical, then at the start, middle, and end of your shift.
  • Close your door to minimize conversations, or let colleagues know that you’re unavailable for a certain time.
  • Stay off the Internet so you’re not tempted to surf the web. Designate web surfing time at home.

Tip #5: Avoid multi-tasking.

It may seem as if you’re doing much more by multi-tasking, but splitting your attention between tasks is less productive. You’ll have better outcomes and feel less drained if you tackle one task at a time.

  • Try the 20-minute rule. Set a timer. Tackle a task for 20 minutes. As the timer sounds, decide if you will continue for another 20 minutes or put the task down for later.
  • Remove everything from your desk or screen except the work you are doing. This will help you to focus on one task.
  • Don’t start on anything else until you have finished the task at hand.
  • If you do want to switch gears, put away the first project and bring out the new one.

 Tip #6: Remove things from your to-do list.

You don’t have to do everything even though some days it may feel like that. Remember that you are part of a team working toward the same goal, and similarly part of a family unit or friend group.

  • Don’t invest time in tasks that have no long-term effects. These are naturally low priority.
  • Focus your energy on tasks that you alone can accomplish and ask a team member to complete the others.
  • Say no to tasks that you don’t have time for, especially last-minute requests that are low priority.
  • If you can’t say no, don’t say yes immediately. Ask if you can let them know. That way you can better evaluate the commitment.

Tip #7: Be flexible.

Priorities change, things happen, and the best laid plans may have to be adjusted. Be ready, and flexible enough to make those changes.

  • Schedule 50% of your day, allowing time for emergencies. If there are no emergencies, then you will get more done.
  • Plan for high-priority tasks first and leave lower priority tasks for the remainder of your shift.
  • Be mindful when you are going off track. Adjust priorities accordingly.
  • If you’re interrupted and can’t seem to re-engage with work, tackle a lower priority task.

Tip #8: Get enough sleep.

You need to be well-rested to be the most productive. We know it may be hard to get enough sleep when working 12-hour shifts or double shifts.

  • Set your thermostat to about 65 degrees for optimum sleeping temperature.
  • Create a bedtime routine that does not include devices or television. Sometimes a warm shower or bath can help just prior to bed.
  • Use a white noise machine or wear ear plugs to soften distracting noise.
  • Use blackout shades or curtains and/or wear an eye mask.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every day even on your off days.

Tip #9: Leave work at work.

Separating work and home are essential for you to feel rested and recharged. If you’re able to manage your time effectively at work, you should be able to leave it there.

  • Use your commute to decompress from work.
  • Create an after-work ritual, whether it’s listening to music, watching a favorite show, changing into PJs, that signals you are done working.
  • Resist the temptation to bring work home or to check emails on your days off. Know that your colleagues can handle anything that is needed.
  • Take care of your mental health. Be aware of signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Seek professional help if needed.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


Recipes for the Big Game – 8 Heart-healthy Touchdown Treats

Recipes for the Big Game – 8 Heart-healthy Touchdown Treats

We’re gearing up for game day with a winning lineup of Super Bowl snacks. From classic comfort food to delicious remakes of our favorites, we’re doing it all with a heart-healthy* twist. Needless to say, this is “nacho” average football party!

Cauliflower Tots

Cooking spray

4 cups cauliflower florets, steamed (about 1/2 large cauliflower)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons Sriracha

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • In a food processor, pulse steamed cauliflower until riced.
  • Place riced cauliflower on a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to drain water.
  • Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl with egg, cheddar, Parmesan, Panko, and chives, and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a tater-tot shape with your hands. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tots are golden.
  • Meanwhile, make spicy ketchup by combining ketchup and Sriracha in a small serving bowl.
  • Serve warm cauliflower tots with spicy ketchup.


Chicken & Feta Sliders

Cooking spray

1 pound ground chicken breast

1/4 cup crumbled herbed feta or regular feta

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 dinner rolls

8 thin slices fresh tomato

  • Coat a stove-top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high.
  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, feta, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix well and shape the mixture into 8 sliders, each about 3/4-inch thick.
  • Add the sliders to the hot pan and cook for 3 minutes per side for medium.
  • Arrange the sliders on the rolls and top with tomato slices.


Crispy Oven-Baked Lemon-Pepper Chicken Wings

3 pounds chicken wings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest, divided

1 ¼ teaspoons ground pepper, divided

Lemon wedges for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place an oven-safe wire rack on the prepared baking sheet; coat the rack with cooking spray.
  • Pat wings dry and place in a medium bowl.
  • Add oil and baking powder; toss to coat well.
  • Add garlic powder, salt, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon pepper; toss well.
  • Arrange the wings in an even layer on the prepared rack.
  • Bake, flipping once, until the skin is crispy, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers at least 165°F, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer the wings to a clean bowl. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss well. Transfer the wings to a platter. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.


Lightened Up 7-Layer Dip

2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 avocados, mashed well
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup black beans
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced black olives and scallions, to garnish

  • Spread chopped romaine lettuce at the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Add avocado layer on top, and smooth out with a spoon to even height.
  • Spoon Greek yogurt layer, and smooth if necessary.
  • Layer black beans, then diced tomatoes on top.
  • Sprinkle cheese and add olives and scallions.


Loaded Zucchini Skins

½ pound bacon cooked until crisp, then chopped

4 large zucchini

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper freshly ground

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups shredded cheddar

green onions (optional)

sour cream (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  • Cook bacon using your preferred method and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  • Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a large metal spoon, scoop out seeds from the insides, then cut each half into chunks.
  • Place zucchini pieces into a colander & sprinkle with salt to draw out excess moisture for about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer zucchini to the prepared baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Bake until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top each piece of zucchini with cheese and bacon.
  • Return to oven and bake until cheese is bubbly, and zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes more.
  • Garnish with sour cream and green onions before serving.


Mediterranean Nachos

4 pita pockets, sliced into 8 triangles each

1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed, pat dry

1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for drizzle

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 medium cucumber, diced small

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes julienned

1/2 cup banana peppers, sliced

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 cup feta crumbles

2-3 green onions, sliced for garnish

2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Hummus, for serving

Tzatziki sauce, for serving

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and spread pita triangles across. Drizzle olive oil lightly across the pita bread, along with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.
  • On a second baking sheet, spread out the rinsed and dried chickpeas. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, tossing each halfway through.  Check for desired crispiness and remove from oven.
  • Meanwhile, prepare toppings and dips, if making homemade.
  • When the pita chips come out of the oven, transfer them to a serving tray/plate (or just leave them on the tray!). Top pita slices with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, shallot slices, and feta crumbles.
  • If desired, put the nachos back in the oven for 3-5 minutes if you want the toppings to be warm, too. Garnish with green onion and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with hummus and/or tzatziki sauce.


Squash & Walnut Crostini

2 small (or 1 large) acorn squash, halved and seeded

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1 ½ teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 (12-ounce) baguette, sliced and toasted

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

Fried sage leaves, for serving (optional)

  • Season squash with salt and pepper. Arrange cut sides down on a microwave-safe plate or baking dish. Microwave on HIGH until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Squash can also be roasted in a 425°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes.) Scoop flesh into a bowl; discard skins. Add 1 tablespoon oil and mash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and walnuts. Cook, stirring often, until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant and the garlic is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
  • Spread squash mixture on toasts, dividing evenly. Top with walnut mixture, blue cheese, and fried sage, if desired.


Ultra-Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas

19-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)

  • Heat air fryer to 390°F
  • Drain and rinse chickpeas. No need to dry.
  • Toss with olive oil and spices.
  • Place the chickpeas in the air fryer basket. Cook for 12-15 minutes, shaking a few times.
  • Remove from air fryer. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

*These recipes contain salt. If you’re under the care of a cardiologist, please check with your physician for your specific heart-healthy dietary needs.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


Winter Fitness Tips

Winter Fitness Tips

It’s easy to exercise in the spring and fall when the weather beckons you to come outside. It may take a bit more inspiration in the winter, but it’s worth it.

Getting outside in cold weather connects you with nature, lifts your mood, and gives you a beneficial dose of sunlight/vitamin D. It also boosts your immunity during cold and flu season. With no heat and humidity, you might even be inspired to work out longer.

However, there is a way to do it safely. Follow these winter fitness tips for the basics of exercising in cold weather.

Choose the right fabrics.

When you’re wet, you lose body heat and that makes you feel cold. The colder you are, the less likely you’ll want to work out. In addition, cold can put you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia. Avoid active wear made from cotton, which holds in moisture from sweat and rain/snow. Instead choose synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. They dry quickly and wick away moisture.

Layer your clothes.

Use layers to trap warm air next to your body. Start with a thin base layer of synthetic fabric, which will keep sweat away from your skin. Then add a middle layer such as a fleece. Your outer layer should be either a lightweight nylon windbreaker or if it’s cold, a heavyweight waterproof jacket. As you exercise and get warmer, remove a layer, and tie it around your waist. That will help you from getting hot and sweaty which can lead to feeling damp and cold.

Pro Tip: Wear bright colors. Visibility is more limited in winter from rain, snow, fog, or dark skies. Be seen by the people and vehicles in your immediate area.

Protect your hands and feet.

In cold weather, blood is circulated to the core of your body, leaving less heat funneled to your extremities – your fingers, ears, nose, and toes. That means these areas are less warm. To counter that effect, wear a hat or headband, gloves or mittens, and thick socks. Choose materials like wool or synthetic as cotton could get wet. If your toes get cold, consider your shoes. Running shoes are designed to let heat escape. You can buy shoe covers at skiing and hiking stores. There also are specialty running sneakers designed for winter.

Protect your skin.

Winter isn’t just cold; it’s dry, and that can affect your skin. Apply moisturizer or lotion regularly. When you’re going to be outdoors, also apply sunscreen. SPF rays can damage your skin even when it’s cloudy. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV rays, so you get doubly exposed. UV rays also increase with elevation. Every 1,000 meters (3,281 ft.) in altitude, UV radiation increases by 10 percent.

Make sure you have traction.

When you’re exercising on icy surfaces, it’s easy to slip. That can lead to injury. Make sure that you have footwear with good traction and stay on plowed surfaces or salted ones. Take care to remove ice from your own property. If you will be primarily on the ice and snow, consider adding snow or ice spikes to your footwear. Just note that while those spikes help on icy surfaces, they can affect your balance on dry ones.

Take the time to warm up.

It’s especially important to warm up for an exercise routine in cold weather. You want to

Increase your blood flow and temperature so you’re not at risk for sprains and strains. A good analogy is what happens when you stretch a cold rubber band. It can snap more easily than a warm one. That’s what could happen to your muscles. For your warm-up, choose low intensity moves that are like those in your workout. Lunges, squats, and arm swings, for example, are good for runners.

Pro Tip: Head into the wind at the beginning of your workout. When you’re on your way back and feeling sweaty, you won’t have to fight the wind chill as much. That will help keep you warmer.

Pay attention to your breathing.

Cold weather causes your airway passages to narrow. That’s why it can hurt to breathe when you’re exercising in cold weather. Breathing through your nose can help but isn’t always possible when you’re moving intensely. Try wrapping a scarf or some thin fabric around your mouth. It will help keep in the humidity.


You may not feel as thirsty during cold weather workouts. However, you’re still losing fluids. Dehydration carries risks, including headaches and a drop in energy. Sip water while you’re exercising. If you’re going to be exercising for more than 90 minutes, choose a sports drink like Gatorade.

Cool down. Change clothes.

You can get chilled fast after a workout. Take the time to cool down, which helps reduce later muscle soreness. It also helps your heart transition from an exercise pace to a normal rhythm. Then get out of your damp clothes. Take a warm shower and change into clean, dry clothes.

Avoid severe weather.

While cold weather workouts are beneficial, there’s a limit to when you should exercise outside. Avoid the extreme cold. Don’t exercise outdoors during winter storms. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia. The cold also can put a strain on your heart. If you have a chronic health condition such as asthma or a heart problem, talk to your doctor about whether cold weather exercise is right for you.

Know the signs of hypothermia.

Finally, be aware of the signs of hypothermia. That’s when your body temperature drops too low and affects other systems in your body.  If you experience any of these signs, get medical help right away.

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow reactions
  • Slurred speech
  • Mental confusion
  • Exhaustion or sleepiness


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.



Beating the Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Beating the Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder

If the winter months get you down, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people, and it’s more than just the winter blues. It can affect your mental and physical health.

Here’s what you need to know about SAD, including how to recognize signs and symptoms, some available treatments, and how to help those around you if you think they suffer from this condition.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression. It is more than feeling sad or unhappy, and it is not a condition that can be wished away. Symptoms start in the late fall and continue into the winter months. They are most severe during December, January, and February. Generally, SAD resolves itself during the light-filled days of spring. (There also is a form of summer SAD, thought to be caused by the heat, humidity, and allergies. Summer SAD is much less common.) SAD usually starts in adulthood. It is rare among people who are under age 20. It is more common among women than men.

What causes SAD?

The exact cause is not known, but it is thought that SAD is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. Light stimulates the hormone, serotonin, in our brain which makes us feel happy. Increased darkness on the other hand prompts the brain to make more melatonin, causing sleepiness and reduced energy.

What are the signs of SAD?

SAD can affect how you feel, think, and behave. The symptoms are persistent and can be severe. While not every person experiences all the symptoms, here are some common ones for winter SAD.

  • Losing interest in activities: If the activities that usually interest you lose their appeal, that’s a symptom of a low mood or depression.
  • Low energy and sluggishness: You may find it difficult to muster the energy to do the most basic tasks. You might experience extreme fatigue.
  • Sleeping too much: You find yourself sleeping more than usual, and you have difficulty waking up. You may experience daytime drowsiness.
  • Appetite changes: You crave the mood and energy boosting comfort of carbs. However, overloading on carbs can lead to weight gain.
  • Difficulty concentrating: You may be unable to focus and have trouble thinking clearly.
  • Negative thinking: You may feel hopeless, worthless, or even suicidal. You might be anxious and irritable.

What are options for treatment?

Without treatment, SAD can last months. However, most people who seek help can see improvement in a matter of weeks. The symptoms of SAD may look like other mental health conditions, so it’s important to get a diagnosis. A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose SAD and offer options for treatment. Treatments may include:

  • Light therapy: This involves sitting in front of a special light in a lightbox or panel for a specific amount of time each day.
  • Sunlight exposure: Spending more time outside during daylight hours can help. Consider a daily walk or outdoor exercise.
  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy can help you to understand SAD and manage its symptoms from anxiety to depression.
  • Medications: ln some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed to correct the chemical imbalance caused by SAD.

Here are some ways to help prevent SAD.

You can take steps to prepare for winter SAD, which may help to reduce its effects.

  • It may be tempting to go into hibernation mode when it starts to become dark early. However, that can perpetuate the feelings of depression. Instead, plan activities to stay social. This will help to boost your mood.
  • Exercise regularly. If you can exercise in the sunlight, that’s a double boost.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. If you’re tempted by carbs for a quick energy boost, go for complex carbohydrates instead. For example, choose whole grain breads and fruits over sweets and chips.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, especially before bed.

Finally, seek professional help if your symptoms persist. SAD is treatable, and fortunately, does not last forever.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

How Schools Can Help Teachers Avoid Burnout

How Schools Can Help Teachers Avoid Burnout

It’s time to take teacher burnout seriously. We can plan for it, take steps to avoid it, and address it if it happens, and administrators are key in doing that. Here’s how schools can set teachers up for success and help everyone to avoid burnout.


Reduce extra roles.

Teachers put in plenty of hours. They’re responsible for lesson planning, teaching, grading, assessments, behavior management, confliction resolution, social emotional learning, and home-school communication. They arrive early, stay late, and bring work home. Be careful of adding anything extra to that already hefty workload. Before you ask a teacher to take on an extra role, from chaperoning the school dance to running the cooking club, ask some questions.

  • Is this extra role necessary?
  • What happens if this role is not staffed this year?
  • Is there anyone else who could fulfill this role (e.g., parent volunteer, community organization, etc.)?
  • If a teacher takes on this role, can you provide extra support in another area to free up his/her time? Can extra pay be offered for the extra role?


Give teachers flexibility.

Teaching requires educators to be onsite, but not all the time. Give teachers the flexibility to shift their workload to where it is comfortable for them. Foster a culture where it is acceptable for teachers to choose how to spend their non-classroom time.

  • Allow teachers to leave school when students are not in their care (e.g., run an errand during a free period or leave early for a doctor’s appointment).
  • Permit teachers to do their grading elsewhere.
  • Schedule virtual faculty meetings so teachers can attend from home.
  • Enable staff to participate in professional development days from home.


Schedule time for collaboration.

Educators benefit from sharing ideas and best practices. Schedule regular time where teachers can collaborate with colleagues at their grade level or subject area. This will inspire great work while providing a chance for educators to support each other.

  • Ask teachers to choose the times they would like to meet.
  • Provide substitute coverage for designated collaboration periods.
  • Don’t schedule meetings during teacher prep periods. That is taking away important planning time.
  • Don’t ask teachers to come in early or stay late for meetings.


Give teachers autonomy.

From curriculum standards to standardized testing, there is a lot in the teaching profession that is regimented. Allow teachers the autonomy in their classrooms for the parts of their job that are not mandated. This helps improve job satisfaction and retention. It also raises the quality of instruction.

  • No two educators are the same. Empower teachers to vary their approaches in the classroom even if they are teaching the same grade level or subject area as colleagues.
  • Involve teachers in goal setting for themselves and their grade level/subject area.
  • Ask teachers to identify key areas where they want to grow professionally. Provide support in those areas.


Give new teachers mentors.

New teachers benefit from an experienced hand to show them the way. Not only can a well-designed mentor program help them to be effective, but it can also be a factor in retention and future success.

  • Pair teachers with mentors teaching the same grade level or subject area.
  • Provide coaching guidance to the mentor. Consider a stipend for mentor work.
  • Schedule collaborative time, with substitute coverage so mentors can observe mentees and vice versa.


Make self-care a part of school culture.

Schools that prioritize self-care create a workplace with happier, high-performing employees. Importantly, this is a schoolwide initiative. Administrators need to model the behavior that they want to see in their staff.

  • Set work boundaries. Let teachers know you won’t be sending or answering emails after 6 pm or on weekends. Ask them to do the same.
  • Encourage teachers to take breaks, such as walks around the school.
  • Provide programs and resources for self-care. Show gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Set parameters and norms around how staff interact with, listen to, and support each other.

Pro Tip: Allow teachers to text a colleague to relieve them so they may step out of the classroom for a few minutes if needed.


Survey your teachers.

Educators know what they need in order to thrive. Ask your staff where they need support, and then listen and act on their responses.

  • Conduct a formal survey to identify areas of need. Make it optional to share the respondent’s name to encourage honest feedback.
  • Plan regular check-ins with your staff. Have informal conversations at classroom doors, at lunch, in the hallways, etc.
  • Encourage an open-door policy for your teachers. Alternatively, set office hours so they can easily connect with you.


Plan for burnout.

Despite your best efforts, burnout can happen. Be prepared with clear policies so staff know that there is help should they need it.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

How to Organize a Busy Schedule

How to Organize a Busy Schedule

Before we know it, we’ll be going from relaxing summer days to busy fall schedules. With school, sports practices, extracurricular activities, meetings, and more, it can easily become overwhelming.

We’ve researched some effective ways to take control of our busy schedules. Follow these tips and, hopefully, you’ll find some much-needed time for yourself, too.


Stay on top of the little things so they don’t create last minute rushes.

Stop for gas before the tank is nearly empty. Do your laundry so you don’t have to search for that clean shirt. Go food shopping so you have items to pack for lunch. If you put off the small things, they can become big stressors and throw off your schedule.


Use the one-minute rule. If a task will take you one minute or less, do it now.

Hang up your coat. Put your dishes in the dishwasher. Put away all the groceries when you bring them home, even the ones that don’t need refrigeration. Putting off these smaller tasks will just add to your to-do list.


Make large tasks more manageable by doing them in stages.

If you have a big project at work, you probably break it down into smaller parts. Do the same with your household tasks. Clean the bathroom on Monday, the toilet on Tuesday, and so on. Break up larger projects so that it’s easier to fit them into your schedule.


Make sure everything in your house has a home.

You have five minutes before you must leave, and you can’t find your keys. When you declutter, it’s a lot easier to find the things you need at a moment’s notice. Do that not only for your house but for your car and workspace too.


Schedule tasks for the time that you are most productive.

Are you an early morning person or a night owl? Plan tasks for the times that you have the most energy or can focus the best. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.


Plan for downtime as you wait for pickups or in lines.

Use waiting time for answering emails, reading brief articles, or doing other tasks that take 10-15 minutes. Prepare a list of smaller tasks that you can complete during this time. Some downtime, however, such as sitting in traffic is not right for multitasking. Don’t text and drive, even if your car is not moving.


Create a to-do list with time estimates.

Don’t rely on your memory. Prepare a daily to-do list. Include an estimate of the time each task will take. Star or highlight the tasks that take priority. Then make an informed decision about which tasks you’ll tackle first. Keep your to-do list in sight where you can easily see it.

Pro Tip: Plan the next day’s to-do list at the end of the previous day so you’ll be ready to go.


Reflect and reprioritize.

New tasks pop up all the time. Take a moment midday to reflect on your to-do list. See where you are and what you have yet to do. Update your priorities to tackle the most important tasks.


Create a master calendar for a visual representation of your schedule.

While a to-do list helps with tasks, a calendar displays your daily, weekly, and monthly commitments at-a-glance. Block out activities on your calendar. Color code your calendar by work/personal/family/child. Allow for travel time and make sure to include breaks/downtime.


Set aside different days of the week for different tasks.

Maybe Saturday is for errands. Sunday is for meal prep. Organizing your schedule in this way helps consolidate the same types of tasks. That way, you’re not running to the food store three times a week for groceries. It will end up being a big timesaver.


Reduce time in meetings.

Consider whether a meeting needs to be in person, or if it could be virtual (no travel time). Maybe it could be a call or email. If you do have the meeting, share the agenda in advance. Include times for topics and stick to the schedule.


Avoid distractions from tasks at hand.

Texts and emails can interrupt your workday and family time. Put your phone on silent or wear headphones. Wait until your break to check your phone. Considering checking email at a designated time (e.g., every hour or every couple of hours) rather than all the time.


Don’t be afraid to delegate.

You don’t have to do everything. Don’t accept more responsibility than you can realistically handle. See if there is someone at work or in your family who can take over some of your workload. Consider paying a professional to handle some of your tasks. There are services that handle errands, housekeeping, meal prep, and more.


Use digital tools.

There are many technology tools that can help you organize from calendar apps to digital to-do lists. Some popular tools include ClickUp, Google Tasks, Notion, RescueTime, and Todoist.


Schedule time for yourself.

You do everything for everyone. Make sure you make time to relax and recharge. Block off time for lunch. Schedule time for self-care, including favorite hobbies, time with friends, and time away. You’ll emerge refreshed and ready to take on a new day.



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