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Creating a Structure and Routine
The Benefits of Structure and Routine

One of the most important and frequently overlooked components to consistently achieving success both in and out of your career is a routine. Developing a routine can sometimes feel like an impossible task but there are some critical benefits associated with a routine, and you may even find it becomes easier to set and reach goals.

Reduction of Bad Habits: It’s likely you’ve heard the phrase “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Loosely translated, it simply means that lack of attention towards something specific can easily result in the development of bad habits or mischief. Boredom often leads to smoking, over eating, laziness, and many other habits that may result in an unhealthy lifestyle. Making sure that you have a routine reduces the amount of free time you have, and that reduction in free time will result in the reduction of negative influence or thoughts. Additionally, when you plan out your day, typically you will plan to accomplish positive things, therefore, by default you will lead a more positive lifestyle.

Increasing Effectiveness and Efficiency: Eventually your routine will become second nature, which will enable you to make certain decisions without necessarily thinking about them. This will result in the ability to act quicker and become more efficient at your everyday tasks. It will also allow you to organize yourself better on a daily basis. For Example, if you always run errands from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, when you have to drop laundry off at the dry cleaner you will begin to instinctually know that you can accomplish that between 3pm and 5pm, rather than analyzing your entire schedule to see when you can fit it in.

Negates the Need for Willpower and Motivation: It’s not always easy to dig down and find the energy you need to go to the gym, eat right or insert any other good habit here. When you build that good habit into a routine, you don’t necessarily need to find the will power and motivation anymore, because it just starts to come naturally. Maybe if you want to eat healthier, you get in the habit of bringing your lunch every day. If you want to go to the gym, then every day, right after work head directly to the gym. While you’ll need to muster up the will power and motivation the first few weeks, once this becomes a routine, it becomes much easier as your body and mind are both used to it.

Structure and Momentum: Once you get past the first hump of your routine, eventually everything will become, well, routine. This will allow you to build consistent structure in your life and you’ll start to be able to easily build in new habits as you feel necessary. This will make it easier to learn new skills, create good habits, and even help you relax at night as you won’t be worried about what tomorrow will bring. The longer you do your routine, the more momentum you’ll build, and the added structure will make your day much easier and more enjoyable.

All in all, developing that routine will result in numerous added benefits and will help you lead a healthier lifestyle. At this point you might be wondering how you can develop a routine when there are so many variables at play as a substitute teacher. We understand that the very nature of the position dictates that your workday will revolve around someone else’s schedule, and in addition to that, you may frequently be in a different school or even school district day in and day out. That is why we want to help you achieve the success of a routine while remaining in an extremely dynamic career.

First, you must identify what is out of your control. As a substitute teacher, you won’t be able to control which school(s) have available positions and what specific schedule you’ll be following. Outside of those two factors, there are some simple rules, we’ll call them the “R’s”, you can follow to have a successful routine.

Rise (early): We’ve all heard the saying, “The early bird gets the worm!”. While this saying is not backed by data, there are countless studies that laud the importance of getting an early start to your day. This will give you time to accept an assignment, get prepared, and arrive to the school early. For more benefits of rising early, check out 7 Ways Science Proves Early to Bed and Early to Rise Really Works.

Relax & Rejuvenate: You’re probably asking yourself, how am I going to have time to relax when I’m working with students all day. As a former classroom teacher, I know this can be a challenge. However, I would argue that this is one of the most important things you can implement in your routine. Throughout your schedule, you may have a lunch or prep period. During that time, take a little down-time. Read a book, unplug, or try an app like Headspace to clear your mind. This will definitely get you ready for the next half of your day.

Reflect: We work with thousands of substitutes teachers and a lot of them ask us, “How can I improve?” or “How can I get a permanent job within the district?”. Their passion for their craft is evident. One way to improve is to simply reflect on your day. Instead of rushing out the door as soon as the last bell rings; hang out, make sure your work area is all settled, and write down where you were strong and where you needed improvement. You may want to even set some goals on how you can specifically improve in certain areas of instruction. Instruction is a craft and it takes time, and meaningful reflection to improve.

Rest: This may be the easiest strategy to implement after a long day with children! Experts recommend anywhere from 6-9 hours of sleep per night. Getting ample rest could spur creativity, give you more energy throughout the day, and sharpen your attention. All of the “side effects” will lead to you being a better substitute teacher.

Now let’s discuss a few things you can do to set a routine around some of those variables that are out of your control. In order to do that, we’ll start with the first thing we all do, waking up in the morning. While it’s true that the time you get up may have to be flexible depending on whether you do or do not have a job, you can still create a routine around it.

We can skip over the situation in which you already have a job and know where you are going, but let’s go ahead and discuss how to set a routine around the day in which you go to bed not knowing what school you’ll be in the following morning. It’s well known that many of the absences put into the Aesop platform are done the night before and the morning of the absence. Therefore, go ahead and set your alarm for 5:30AM the following morning. When you wake up, no need to get out of bed, boot up that smartphone and head to www.aesoponline.com or open up the Jobulator app if you have that. We are confident there will be a position for you to accept. Then just reset your alarm for the right time and go back to sleep. If you don’t happen to see anything available, no problem! We get in at 5:30AM as well! Call us at (856) 406-6015 and we’ll help you find something. And if there truly is nothing available, we’ll continue the search while you go back to sleep, that way you can get some much-needed Z’s and we’ll give you a call when we’ve got an assignment for you.

Now that we have the first big variable out of the way, let’s move onto how to regularize your day when you’re quite literally standing in someone else’s shoes. Let’s face it, the most stressful part of this isn’t so much about when you’ll have a break or what classroom you’ll be in. It’s what will you be teaching for the day. While of course it’s always ideal when the teacher leaves you a well thought out lesson plan for the day, reality is it won’t always happen. We highly recommend developing four or five standard lesson plans that you can use when the teacher doesn’t expect to be out sick and leaves you without one. This way while you won’t always know what you’ll be teaching, but you will know that you’ll never be without something to teach.

Waking up without a definitive assignment and walking into a class without lesson plans are the two major things that will disrupt your normal routine as a substitute teacher. While we can’t stop either of those things from happening, we hope that knowing you have a default plan in place for when either of those do happen will help you solidify a routine in each situation and reduce your stress about encountering them moving forward.

As far as the rest of your day goes we’ll leave that up to you but try and incorporate the 4 “R’s” we discussed earlier as your routine outside of work is just as important as your routine at work. We recommend you stay organized, ensure you have some time to unwind before bed and always get a good night’s sleep.

Some excellent resources, articles and blogs that we’ve found on how to start building your routine are below:

The Daily Routine of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs and How to Master Your Own Routine
5 Steps to Create a Daily Routine That Works for you
The Importance of a Morning Routine
How I Cured My Depression with a Routine
How to Develop a Routine and Stop Wasting Time

Additionally, while we have a lot of variable positions here at Insight, depending on where you are located there is a high likelihood that we may offer positions that allow you to be in the same school or same classroom day in and day out, so be sure to reach out to us at (856) 406-6015 or support@workwithinsight.com.