The life of the school website manager is no easy ask. You're trying to pull information together from a number of sources, all of whom are very busy! You're also under pressure to meet statutory legal requirements and an inspection can fall down before it's even begun, all based on whether you do your job properly or not. A school website manager's role is not for the fainthearted.
In over a decade of supporting school website managers, we've learned a few things about how to be efficient and reliable in the role. We've also learned how important it is to look after yourself.
Here are just a few of the practices we employ to hit maximum efficiency, save time and ease the stress of the job.
Shortcuts for School Website Managers
Let's be clear on this - we're not talking about cutting corners. Safeguarding information, SEND content, accessible information, clear navigation, and beautiful design are critical for any successful school website.
But, there are things you can do to make your life as a school website manager easier. There are a number of ways that you can make sure that what you need is easy and fast to access.
- Bookmarks - web browser bookmarks are a big ally when it comes to saving time. We swear by them. By simply organising your most frequently used webpages, like your school website software login, key compliance requirements, Canva etc. You'll immediately save time looking for all your favourite tools online.
- Desktop Shortcuts - this almost feels like a suggestion from the late 1980s! But, having any apps you use regularly right there where you need them can save lots of time. We use Macs and so the app tray is a great place to add your favourite and most frequently used apps for quick and easy access
- Obvious Reminders - psychologically, having clear details of what you want to action, right in front of you at the right time, significantly impacts your ability to get things done. Make sure that any tools or resources you use regularly are where you need them. Also, be sure to have a clear list of what you want to achieve and the actions you need to take. Make them clear. Put them directly in front of you.
- Use existing Resources (rather than creating your own or searching for what you need) - our best example of this is always The School Website Requirements Guide. It is your go-to compliance resource all year round, every year. But, there are lots of resources that are created with the express aim of making life easier and saving you time. Seek them out, bookmark them and come back to them. Be deliberate in your goal of saving time. That means, saving the best resources to come back to. Then, you won't have to remember where they are.
Repeat actions for School Website Managers
Being aware of any actions you repeat regularly and being deliberate in your efforts to set reminders or recurring tasks will have a huge impact on your 'brain space'.
We set aside time to plan strategically, watching out for opportunities to create recurring tasks in our Task Management Software.
The image is profound. We don't need to remember what is coming up and what needs actioning when. Reminders come our way automatically.
We love creative thinking and thrive when we're in that space. But, we need free 'brain space' and the capacity to think creatively. Because we don't need to remember when anything needs to be done, we have deliberately created that space and are free to enjoy more creative freedom.
That is a possibility to you too, no matter how busy you are. Here's how we do it.
- Use your calendar or a task management tool - if you're using a tool such as Asana of Schudio's built-in Task Management Tool, you have the option to give yourself and your team tasks, set reminders, repeat tasks and simply work through your tasks at the right time. If none of these options are available to you, the simplest way to do this is to use the todo list option or calendar on your phone.
- Templated workflows - when you're ready to go deeper into this way of working, you can start to think about using templated workflows. For us, every time we build a new website for a client, every single step we need to follow to make sure the project runs smoothly is tasked out. Tasks include clear details of what needs to happen. Every single step. It takes time and dedication (and some tweaking as we learn and grow) but it has a powerful impact on efficiency and productivity.
- Templated Content & Snippets - we regularly short snippets of text that we use in our conversations with clients. This saves us huge amounts of time. So, in our support system, if someone asks a question about how to add a News Article, we have ready-to-go instructions. We might tweak them to suit the client or the conversation. But, we have the core information at hand to use quickly. It means we can respond faster. We can answer with more precision. We save time and we support you better. How can you apply this principle? The Document Groups feature within the Schudio CMS is a great example. When you need to add a document to your website in more than one place, using Document Groups will save you time. You will only need to update the document in one place when a policy is renewed. Can you see how much time you can save using that feature?
Tips and tricks for School Website Managers
There is a range of other tips we recommend for anyone looking to work smarter and save time. Below are our top 3 tips you can immediately implement to see greater productivity. And less stress!
- Remove distractions - look back at the 'obvious reminders' note above. There is a further step you can take to make this work even more powerfully for you. Remove distractions. Get rid of any visual clutter. Close down email if you're working on an intense task. Put your phone in airplane mode. Find a quiet place to work. Simple steps that you take to remove distractions when you need to. We are designed to work intensely for up to two hours. Covid has wrecked that for a lot of us. By being deliberate in your attempts to focus, you will see big improvements, and quickly.
- Work on intense tasks at the right time of day - some of us hit the ground running in the morning and fizzle out as the day goes on. Some of us are more the 'wind-up model', it takes a while to get going. Whichever way you work best, be deliberate in when you do your more intense tasks. If you're a morning person, build some time in to your morning routine to get some heavy-lifting work done. Move less brain-draining tasks to the part of the day that is when you feel more tired.
- Plan Ahead - obvious? We recommend a recurring task on a Sunday evening or Monday morning to set goals for the week ahead. Make them manageable but a slight stretch. Note the tasks you need to complete to achieve the goals you set. But, be sure to think about what you want to achieve before you set about doing anything. Again, you'll achieve a whole lot more.
- Reminders for Annual Tasks - we mentioned repeating tasks earlier in this post. But, it's such a powerful approach it's worth wrapping up with a reminder to do this. You have the option and the power to get ahead of things so that you ease the burden on your brain to remember what needs doing and when. You have that option available to you. It is, quite simply, transformative.
Everything we do at Schudio is with the express aim of making life in school just that little bit easier for you. Be assured, if you take these steps and build them into you working life (and your personal life!) you will find that you are freer and have less burden on your shoulders throughout the day. The impact on your efficiency and the ability to think creatively is significant.
More importantly, the impact on your mental health can be profound.