Independent school enrollment season can be a tremendously busy time for the admissions office. Between reading parent and student essays, processing last minute applications and answering prospecting families questions, it can feel overwhelming. The keys to maintaining a productive admission office during these busy times are the same as for other industries. Productivity is what happens when people take the time to focus on priorities and efficiency rather than trying to hurry through tasks as quickly as possible.

To help your team to be as productive as possible through this admission season, we offer you six productivity tips. We encourage you to share these tips with your whole team, to not only ensure everyone is working as productively as possible but ultimately to help prevent burn out.

Productivity Tip 1: Set the Stage for Success

An ideal work environment is going to help you be more productive. By ideal, we mean an environment that mentally helps you focus—and stay focused. For some in the admissions office, soft music playing in the background might help. For others, having easy access to healthy snacks such as granola bars or fresh fruit could foster productivity. Still others might prefer quiet. Try to determine your ideal work environment, while remaining aware that others might have a different definition of “ideal.” Work together to make sure everyone has a chance to set their own stage for success during this time.

Productivity Tip 2: Eliminate Distractions

Studies show it can take up to 30 minutes to get back on task after being interrupted. Avoiding distractions and interruptions can therefore make you more productive and maximize your time in the office. Distractions have become par for the course, nowadays.  To avoid them, consider the following proactive steps:

  • When you sit down to read applications, set aside a specific time.
  • Clear off your desk before you start.
  • Only check your email every 60 minutes, and limit the time you spend doing so by responding to just those messages that are urgent. (Consider setting a timer to ensure your time spent on email is minimal.)
  • Avoid checking social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. (Some experts suggest turning off the Internet altogether to prevent the temptation to go to any distracting websites.)
  • Put your phone on silent, and put it away so you’re not able to check for text messages.
  • Make yourself unavailable. This might be difficult at first if your coworkers are accustomed to instant access to you when they have a question or need. But if you’re clear that it’s only for a specified time and task, and that you will be available afterwards, they will accept it.

Productivity Tip 3: Find the Balance Between Work and Play

You might be tempted to power your way through all of the application essays in one day, thinking it will be more productive to simply get it done. However, you will actually be more productive if you find a balance between work and play. Investing too much time and energy in work can negatively impact both your physical and mental health, as well as your life at home.

Studies also show that taking short breaks during intense tasks can make you more productive, not less, because your brain tires and you can lose sight of the big picture.  So, rather than spending all day on reading essays, schedule a portion of each work day for this task. To make sure you stay on top of emails and phone calls as well, schedule those into your day too. After work, schedule rest and relaxation to give your brain a well-earned break.

Productivity Tip 4: Manage Your Energy

As with the gas you put in your car, your energy is limited and gets used up. You will be the most productive when you manage your energy efficiently. Determine what time of day you are the most energetic. For some people, this will be the morning. Others are the most energetic in the afternoon and still others get their bursts of energy in the evening. Reading application essays requires you to think and analyze. So, choose to do your review during the time of day that you’re the most energetic and therefore focused and productive. Then use your lower energy hours for lower priority tasks.

Productivity Tip 5: Delegate

For many people, delegating is hard to do, but that is why you have a team. During the busy independent school admission season, delegate other responsibilities so you can stay focused on the task at hand. Perhaps you can put one person in charge of planning and scheduling tours, while another is in charge of brochures or admission marketing materials. Know whom you can trust with which task and assign accordingly—even if you would rather do it yourself.

Productivity Tip 6: Remember Why You Work as an Admission Director

While this doesn’t sound like a productivity tip, it is, because it will help you to put the previous five tips into action. Remember the reason you have this job, the mission behind your work, and your motivations. What you’re doing is important and meaningful, and your decisions during the season will impact people’s lives. Set the stage for success, keep yourself focused, find your balance, manage your energy and delegate. You’ll find the application reviews will go faster and tire you less.


What tips do you have that help keep you motivated and productive?