TODAY ONLY: Every 10th Buyer wins a FREE PLANNER + All Buyers Get Our PreK-5th Summer Review Packets FREE ($175 Value!)

How to Save Time Lesson Planning with 15 Proven Methods from Teachers!

Inside: 15 tips to help you save time lesson planning!

Do you feel like you are always working because there is SO much lesson planning to do as a teacher? Does it feel nearly impossible to save time in lesson planning? I don’t blame you! There are so many components to lesson planning- what to teach, how to teach it, how to engage your students, how to differentiate, and the list goes on and on! 

person placing a small clock into a piggy bank- How to Save Time Lesson Planning

The fact is, as a teacher you have a lot of planning to do. There isn’t a way to change that. However, there are simple ways to plan more effectively, that will save you a lot of time in the long run! I surveyed thousands of teachers about their time-saving planning tips and compiled the best answers to bring you these 15 proven methods to save time planning. 

(This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure).

In addition to saving time lesson planning, do you want more tips about maximizing your teacher time? Check out this guest post I did for Minds In Bloom!

Getting Organized Using a Digital Teacher Planner

Many teachers are utilizing technology to make their planning easier than ever! Online tools make sharing plans with other teachers easy- plus, who doesn’t love to “copy and paste”? 

That’s why we created our Ultimate Teacher Planner and our Ultimate Homeschool Planner in digital formats.  These planners include everything you will need to have the best, most organized school year ever! We have thought of everything and made sure you will have all the pages you will need when planning this school year in Google Slides format including:

  • Multiple cover options so that your teacher planner reflects your personality
  • Divider Sections and Binder Tabs to ensure that everything you need is easy to find
  • Class and School Information Pages to help you keep all the important information handy
  • Classroom Procedure Pages to help you plan out your procedures before school even starts
  • Multiple Checklists to help you stay organized and never forget anything again
  • Time blocked scheduling sheets so that you can easily plan out your day in 15-minute increments
  • A variety of weekly planning sheets to allow you to choose the pages that best fit your needs
  • Full year-at-a-glance pages to make planning ahead easy
  • Pre-dated Planning Sheets so you will never have to spend hours writing the dates again
  • Emergency Procedure pages to help you stay calm during chaos
  • Class List Sheets and Student Information Pages to help you keep track of each student’s individual needs
  • Attendance and Score Tracking sheets to help you keep track of important information for report cards
  • Meeting Note pages to help you during parent or faculty meetings
  • Parent Contact & Communication Logs to track each time you communicate with parents to help ensure that you are communicating positive information as well as necessary information
  • Password Tracking Sheets so that you will never forget your passwords again
  • Student Transporation Sheets to help you keep track of how each student gets home

Our Ultimate Teacher Planner also comes in fun themes to match your classroom decor, including Adventure, Amusement Park, Tropical, & Boho Rainbow. 

Here are some tips from other teachers about how they use technology to save time planning:

“My team uses Planbook to save tons of time lesson planning.  It makes it easy to share plans with each other, move or copy plans and easily enter standards.  It’s awesome. “–Jamie N.

I save time planning by using Google slides as my plan book. My school year is organized by weeks. I can easily insert links to videos, anchor charts, and tpt resources like your spell its right on the slide. This way, I’m not rewriting standards or daily routines! I can copy and paste. The next year I can always review what I did last year and add to my slides. I can access it from home too! If I have a sub I just simply print out that slide! I love it! Total time saver! –Julie L.

“I use google slides to make lessons. The find and replace tool allows you to quickly change out letters and make a series of PowerPoints quickly!” –Jessica

“I am saving time by using a reusable template stored in Google Docs! I just copy and rename it each week so the format is the same. It helps that it’s easy to copy and past standards, anything we need to spend more time on, etc. I will also have them saved for reference next year. Bonus, they are super easy to share with my teacher partner when needed too! LOVE!” –Stephanie D.

Get Organized Using a Printable Teacher Planner

While many people are embracing technology for everything these days, many of us still enjoy some things on pen and paper as well. I’m one of those people who enjoys using a paper planner to jot things out by hand (even though I use technology a LOT, too). I know many teachers agree! 

Our Ultimate Teacher Planner and our Ultimate Homeschool Planner also come in printable versions for those of you, like me who like that pen-to-paper feeling. Our printable planners include everything in the digital planner but, are printable for you to put together your binder in the way that is best for you! Just print off the whole thing, or only certain pages you need at the time!

Our printable teacher planners come in fun themes, too! 

Here’s how a planner can help keep you organized:

“One of the things I do to keep lesson planning easier is have a template for each week… I live by my Erin Condron [Teacher Planner] as well to make sure I keep all important dates and information organized.” –Audrey W.

“Planners–I love being organized and planners!  I feel planners help me with everything!” -Amanda W.

Collaborate with your Team

Planning with your team can be a great way to save time. When co-planning is done effectively, it can be a great way to divide the work. Depending on your team’s strengths, you can divide up by subject, day or week, or activity. If you don’t have to do everything yourself, this will definitely help you save time planning!

Here’s what a few teachers had to say:

“I have an awesome team and we co-plan all of our units- granted we each have different teaching styles but the content and activities are typically the same, with the flexibility to add or skip over lessons as we see fit. We help prep materials and lesson plans for a specific subject and share with each team member to save time each week.” –Alyssa L.

“To save time on lesson planning my first-grade team works together to split and conquer. We divided into two groups (one math/science and the other reading/writing/social studies). Our school expects a lot in our lesson plans (they’re 20+ pages long each week) so this truly helps us save time on planning. We also use a lot of TPT resources to enhance the curriculum and find engaging activities for our students.” -Valerie K.

….But NOT Endlessly Chatting with them

Yes, we love our coteachers! And it’s SO nice to have adult interaction when you are spending all day with children. But, there is a time and a place for chatting with other teachers. If you don’t want to spend hours upon hours outside of school working, you HAVE to use your planning time wisely. If you’re spending this time shooting the breeze with your teacher friends and then wondering why you can never keep up, that could be adding to the problem! Here’s why this is so important:

“To save time for planning, I normally avoid casual chat with other teachers. I have lots of time to do that during collaboration. Since I only get about 30 min of planning time every day, I utilize that entire time to make sure I am ready for the next week ahead.” –Esa P.

“I “try” to save time lesson planning by using my conference period wisely! I’m a second year teacher in a new grade level, so it’s almost like being a first year teacher all over again!! But I’m slowly building my resources and learning tips & tricks to plan efficiently.” –Katherine C.

FREE Planning Time Door Posters! Perfect for cutting down the chatter and plan effectively. Make a plan with your fellow teachers to only chat at certain times and plan during others.

Sometimes you really do need to just lock the door and plan! Worried about hurting other teachers’ feelings by telling them to go away? I created some signs you can use to hang on the door to let them know you’re not to be disturbed… in a nice way! (Not like this one here on Amazon… haha!)

These Teacher Planning Time Door Signs are FREE in my shop! Use these with teacher friends who are also wanting to be more effective with their planning, so they can be a reminder to both of you!

 Utilize Centers

Centers can be a great way to save time because once you get the initial setup figured out, they can run quite smoothly and don’t require much planning. 

Aren’t sure what activities to use in your centers? I’ve got lists of resource ideas for both literacy centers and math centers

See what Becky and Brittany had to say about using centers in their classrooms:

“One way I help manage my lesson planning is by utilizing permanent centers for math and literacy. These do not require any change in materials on a weekly basis (other than the occasional paper refill for the writing center or ABC center) and the students love them because each center offers a variety of options. The students are also able to move freely from center to center keeping them engaged in learning!” –Brittany M.

“I save time by trying to do center activities.  I can fit more skills in during the same amount of time.  My class this year seems to do better this way than other ways I have tried.” –Becky D.

I absolutely love these sand timers to be used during centers to help keep track of time, so you don’t get behind. Then you can stick to your schedule and won’t need to spend even more time planning to rearrange things! (You could also use them to time silent reading and other things, too!)

Join Wife Teacher Mommy Club

If you’re like me, you can pour hours into planning lessons for your students (or your own children in your homeschool) because you want them to have the BEST education possible. 

Wife Teacher Mommy Club is here so you can take back some of that time while honoring your commitment to high-quality teaching. 

With the resources available in the club, you’ll easily be able to cut your planning time by HALF (or more!) Plus… We’re adding new resources every month, and club members get exclusive EARLY access to resources. 

Read what our members are saying about how to save time lesson planning with Wife Teacher Mommy Club:

I am so impressed at how many downloads are available AND each download has soooo many pages!  This cuts down so much planning time! – Jeanne C.

I have really loved everything that I’ve seen that this club has to offer. It makes planning so much easier. -Janessa D.

This club is amazing!  Literally, ANY resource you could ask for, from sub plans to thematic activities for just about any holiday/theme you could think of!  Do yourself a favor and join… will NOT be disappointed (but you will be a little more prepared and you’ll save yourself some planning time!!!!!)! – Cindy S.

Not Reinventing the Wheel

There’s no need to start everything from scratch! You can often reuse things that you have already done in other years, or even create units in a similar format.

Check out how not reinventing the wheel can drastically reduce planning time:

“I save time lesson planning by saving things! if you are teaching the same grade you can save unit plans and then use them again. It is nice to make notes so the next time things aren’t forgotten!”–Melissa M.

I save time on lesson planning by copying and pasting! To help keep me on track following pacing guides, etc (and not spend a billion hours away from my own precious family!!) I will copy previous years’ lessons, paste them into this year’s lessons, and tweak them as necessary to fit my current load of kiddos! It saves A LOT of time! –Julie D.

“The last couple of years I’ve learned that a HUGE time saver is always keeping last year’s plans on my desk to refer back to. I always add notes like, this was so awesome add this next time, or this didn’t go as planned try this instead!  It has saved me so many times!” –Danielle B.

Using TeachersPayTeachers

Speaking of not reinventing the wheel, there are TONS of lessons that are completely done available on Teachers pay Teachers. Why not use lessons that have already been created by other teachers, instead of starting from scratch? TpT has been a lifesaver for so many!

Here is how TpT can help you save time planning:

“I also save time planning by searching for good deals on TpT. This helps limit the amount of work I have to do since you teachers so graciously share your work and ideas with us! Thanks for all you do!” –Elyse P.

“I save time lesson planning by purchasing resources from Tpt. The resources help me to supplement my curriculum.” –Ebony S.

“I save time by printing out my premade sub lessons, placing them in a sheet protector, and just change what is needed for the day with a vis-a-vis marker!” –Jenelle M.

{Psst! You can grab sub plans in my TpT store here and be prepared just like Jenelle!}

Establish Predictable Routines

Having routines helps you know what to expect each day. Maximize your teaching time with predictable routines to cut down on transition times. Plus, when you have predictable routines- such as the same morning activity- that’s one less thing you need to figure out and plan!

Check out how these teachers have created predictable routines:

“I have found that I save time planning by making the routine the same every week with what I’m doing.  Mondays for instance we introduce the new sight words and letter of the week.  Tuesdays we read the big book.  That saves time because all I have to do is copy and paste my plans…which are on the computer (and I have a blank template).  It has been a lifesaver.”  –Mary Jo C.

“One way I save time lesson planning is I keep my homework as similar as possible from week to week. I feel it helps the kids get into a routine and the parents know what to expect from week to week. Makes it easy for changing out from week to week.” –Erin F.

“I save time by trying to have a set schedule each week. That way I can just plug in the week’s activities and not have to worry about time as much. I use the same vocabulary games each week, just switch out words, etc.” –Amy B

Stay Focused on One Thing at a Time

It is easy to get overwhelmed when you’re constantly thinking of everything you have to do. (I am SO guilty of this!) But, by staying focused on one thing at a time, tasks become much more manageable.

Here’s how two teachers are able to do that (and why they think it’s so important):

“I save time lesson planning by having a weekly plan than just focusing one day at a time. When I focus on too many lessons at once, I’m too scattered and I waste time focusing on too much! But the weekly plan keeps me on track and makes sure I’m teaching the right lessons.” –Katie M.

“To save time on lesson planning I schedule out time each week for each subject so I know exactly when I’m working on math plans and don’t get distracted by ELA plans because I know I’ll work on them another time that week!” –Rachel C.

Integrate your Units

By integrating your subjects, you may only need to plan one unit to cover standards in multiple subjects. For example, in my Research Units, I integrate either a science or social studies topic (such as animals and habitats, dinosaurs, or the United States) with language arts! I include many subjects in my Weather Kids Unit and Water Cycle Thematic Unit as well.

Check out what Crystal has to say about integrating subjects:

“I always try to integrate all of my subjects so that when I’m searching for materials I can find them all at once. I also try to think ahead and go ahead and pull what I already have for upcoming units.” –Crystal D.

If you want even more ideas on integrating subject areas & units check out these blog posts:

Get Ahead by Planning Ahead

Planning ahead can REALLY help keep stress at bay because you won’t be stressing out about anything last minute!

See how this has helped some of your fellow teachers save time lesson planning:

“To help with lesson planning, I try to prepare myself for next year as much as possible as I work through plans for the current year. I leave myself sticky notes or videos I used, ways I used resources, and how long things took this time around. I’ve already thanked myself for doing some of that last year!” –Brittney M.

“I save time lesson planning by getting weeks or months planned at once and then not having to worry about planning for a while. It saves me time to grade and relax and have fun.” –Haylee Humes

“I save time lesson planning by choosing one standard and one assessment I plan to do that week. Backward planning, that lets me know what I have to do to get my kiddos ready to be assessed. Parts of speech quiz at the end of the week? Guess we’ll learn about nouns and verbs on Wednesday, adjectives and adverbs on Thursday, etc., and the easiest way for me to save time figuring out what to do for those days of the week? Find a nice worksheet on TPT!” –Torri G.

Get Planning Done at School

Getting planning done at school can really help you keep a work/life balance. This can help you save time because you aren’t planning at home, too!

See why this is such a priority to Elyse and Kristy:

“I save time lesson planning first and foremost by getting it done at school. I choose days to come in early or stay late so that I limit the amount of work I have to bring home. Time with my family is very important to me.” -Elyse P. 

“I save time lesson planning by starting before the weekend! If I have more time available to plan, I find I waste time and use it all! I am trying to get planning done during my conference periods at work!” –Kristy S.

Keep Running Records

Keeping running records can help save time lesson planning because you will have the information you need about your students right on hand! A teacher notebook like this one is perfect for keeping running records each day.

Check out this tip from Kristi:

I think one of my biggest time savers for planning is that throughout the week I keep a running record of where students were at with concepts, and when I sit down to plan I refer back to my notes to see what concepts need revisiting or where I can challenge kiddos. This really helps save a lot of time. –Kristi O.

Get Help When You Need It!

One of the very best ways to save time planning is by asking for help when you need it! There are so many ways to do this- such as asking for students, parents, or even your own family!

Check out what these teachers do:

“I have a copy helper every other week, and that forces me to plan ahead so that my materials are prepped.  This has saved me from wasting my mornings rushing to get prepped for the day.  –Lauren M.”

“Since I teach 5th graders, they love to help. So, I try to remember that I have lots of “helpers” when I’m planning and realize that I can leave certain jobs for them to do, instead of doing them myself. That saves me some time.” -Eilidh

And there you have it! Utilizing these 15 methods will help you save time lesson planning. Not only will this result in more time with your family- but you’ll be a happier, more effective teacher!

You may also be interested in:

Time Management Tips for Teacher Moms

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Educate & Rejuvenate is the virtual teacher conference that you can not miss! Find out more about our summer and winter events. 

Inside Wife Teacher Mommy Club, you will get access to our Pre-K to 6th grade resource library and teacher-life coaching to achieve more of a work life balance.

kelsey sorenson

Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create elementary school and homeschooling resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE email newsletter!

Then, follow me on Instagram and join the Facebook community to stay connected. I can’t wait to connect with you!

Oh, and don’t forget to listen and subscribe to Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast. 

Let's Connect

Sign Up for Free Sub Plans!

Grab your FREE sub plans and you’ll be subscribed to get news about upcoming events, blog & podcast updates, subscriber deals, and more via email. You also agree to our privacy policy.

Mindset Masterclass

Join us for this FREE webinar to help you deal with feelings of overwhelm and bring balance to your life!


This site uses cookies.  Read our privacy policy to find out more.