You’ve done the hard part: you’re TEFL qualified and your business is up and running. However, whether you’ve been teaching for a while or just starting out in the industry, striking out on your own and working for yourself can still be overwhelming.

Learning to fine-tune your day-to-day operations is the key to not letting work consume your life. By implementing these simple strategies you can take back your time and make the most of your working hours.

Set goals

Map out what you want to achieve as an entrepreneur and teacher. Is your goal for the year to find more clients? Or are you interested in building a name for yourself in a particular niche such as Business English?

Answering this question will give you tangible goals to work towards, optimizing your time. To avoid the paralyzing pressure of the bigger picture that can lead to procrastination, break them down into achievable steps throughout the year. As you hit each of those smaller targets, you’ll be able to see your progress for yourself and have a clear idea of what comes next.


As a teacher, teaching is of course not the only activity you are responsible for. There’s also the marking, the planning, and the admin. By prioritizing your most important tasks, you’ll ensure you use your time efficiently throughout the working week.

Alongside the ranking of importance, jot down a rough estimation of the time you’ll need to complete every task you have to do that week. This will help you keep track of your working pace and make appropriate adjustments to your schedule, should you realize something takes more or less time than you’d initially anticipated.

Create a daily schedule

Working in the ESL industry means that your days are very unlikely to look the same. Block out time on your calendar for your various tasks accordingly. While you might not have a 9-5, there’s no reason why you can’t organize reasonable working hours that don’t span the entire day.

If you find the temptation to work on one last lesson plan too strong to resist, then don’t be afraid to also schedule your downtime. Treat it with as much seriousness as you would your other tasks. Burnout is the enemy of productivity, and as a freelancer, your work-life balance rests solely in your hands.

Remove distractions

What can be considered distractions will naturally differ from person to person. Be it social media notifications, the urge to check your emails, or even a family pet, you first need to figure out what is sidetracking you to address it.

Once you’ve identified the culprit, aim to eliminate that distraction. This can be done in a variety of ways, including muting notifications, turning off your phone, or simply incorporating time into your day to scratch that itch and scroll for a while.

Be realistic

It can feel extremely satisfying and be a bit of an ego boost when your services are in high demand. However, continuing to say yes when your calendar is steadily filling up is a slippery slope to overcommitting and under-delivering.

Unless you have an abundance of resources that means you’ll never need to plan again, teachers need to put aside enough time to prepare lessons and write progress reports. Saying no to clients, and thus a bigger payday may feel counterintuitive as a freelancer but sacrificing quality for quantity could lead to work drying up in the long run.

Utilize technology

With the absence of a school dealing with marketing, admin, payment, and student relations, you’re going to have a lot on your plate. So, why not let your website do some of the work? If you’re not sure whether your existing one is pulling its weight, check out

Not only will a professional website make you stand out as credible and serious about your business, the time-saving possibilities are endless. You could include hourly rates, contact information, and even a level test, programmed to email the results to you upon submission.

Pursue your interests

It goes without saying that ensuring you have a stable income is often a priority when you’re an entrepreneur and for more information on the best paid online teaching jobs visit homepage. Nonetheless, a competitive salary isn’t always everything.

Opting for that easier, engaging conversation class with a group of B2 students over another intensive online Business English course now and then might see you earn a little less but you’ll make that back in time saved on preparation. Doing what you enjoy more also ups the chances of better overall performance and higher motivation.

Be prepared

Resources are a teacher’s best friend when it comes to saving time, so start building your collection ASAP. Although you should expect to invest many hours into creating and collecting sheets, slides, and other activities for your lessons, once you’ve established a wide variety of material, it will be invaluable time-wise for future lessons.

Do expect to need to tweak some materia, as no two students are the same. However, having the bulk of your preparation done ahead of time will mean more time for you to either dedicate to other tasks or take on more teaching hours.

Set boundaries

Keeping your clients happy and making sure that they don’t encroach on your downtime can be a hard line to walk, especially if you don’t have a business number. Setting boundaries from the get-go is the best way to prevent a constant influx of messages and emails outside of your working day.

During initial consultations with new students, be upfront about when you are available during the day for calls and other requests. If you find that some clients continue to disregard those set hours, resist the urge to respond. Worse comes to worst, you invest in a new SIM specifically for work for that extra peace of mind.

On the whole, although there will always be a relationship between the time that you put into your job and the money that you get out of it, there’s just as much to be gained from the time that you save. Managing your time also means being realistic about how much of it you really need to get the job done, and acknowledging that more is not necessarily always better.