Lesson planning, time management and finding a good work-life balance are things we all struggle with. The struggle can be especially real for a piano teacher who’s neurodivergent.
There are many resources out there that explore how to teach neurodivergent piano students. But when searching for time management tips for neurodivergent teachers, it can be hard to find the same support.
Yet we need more neurodivergent people joining the world of music studio teaching rather than getting turned off by the profession. Having a neurodivergent piano teacher shows students that even though our brains are wired differently, we can find ways to do what we love without burning out.
For help on this issue, we turned to two expert teachers who self-identify as neurodivergent. Here are their time-management tips.
Nefeli Adamides: You do you!
As a neurodivergent mom and piano teacher, time management is a constant struggle. In addition to being autistic and having ADHD, I also suffer from bipolar depression and migraines. So the typical advice of making a to do list or sticking to a schedule just does not work. Despite my challenges, I’ve found a few tweaks that have helped me.
Instead of trying to do all my lesson planning in one day, I just allow 10 – 30 minutes before each student to plan the lesson. The super-tight deadline allows me to focus and be more efficient and my lesson plans are actually better now.
Get Rid of Time Suckers
Assess where your time is going and make changes to anything that drains you, like teaching from home and having to clean up the whole house (if you have kids, you know!), or driving to students’ homes, or responding to new student inquiry emails.
I now work 100% online and have email templates for responding, both of which save me time and keep me on track.
Find out what sucks your time and then see what you can change little by little.
Accept Who You Are
When I’m not feeling well, I do the minimum to get by without guilt. Then when I’m feeling better, I take the opportunity to catch up or get ahead. Find what actually works for you, not what others say should work. Work with your brain and body instead of against it. Accept your challenges and empower yourself with your strengths.
Follow Nefeli on Instagram @neurodivergent.piano.teacher.
Sarah Clucas: Technology and Boundaries
When I began private teaching, I struggled with time management and lesson organisation. I was consistently running five to ten minutes over in my lessons, on top of forgetting to send practice notes for students.
My first quick time-management solution was to set a timer for two minutes before a lesson was to end using shortcuts on my iPhone screen.
To solve my organisational issue, I decided it was worth the cost to invest in a technology solution. I use My Music Staff religiously, and it saves me so much time on the back end when I’m planning lessons. If you’re able to maintain a routine, this can all be done via a notes app or spreadsheet. I, however, need something a little more automated.
I’ve also learnt that to be a present spouse and parent, I had to create time boundaries for myself in my schedule, devoting only specific times in my day or week to attend to text messages and emails from parents and students.
Back-and-forth communication via text can be such a time vampire and you don’t even know it until you’re deep into the conversation and your kids are saying, “Mom, it’s Saturday. When are you getting off your phone?”
You can learn more about Sarah on her website.
What’s the most important thing you do to manage your studio time?
Whether you’re neurodivergent or neurotypical, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
For more organisational tips, tricks and resources, check out Nicola’s ‘Piano Studio Business’ webpage.