With a few weeks of the winter semester under your belt, your plate may be piling up. Depending on your role, you may be expected to juggle your teaching with research, publishing, grading, and personal commitments. Tailoring lesson plans to meet students’ individual needs is great, but as a professor, it’s important to be aware of how much time you dedicate to those lessons. Productivity tools can help you optimize your time to get the most out of planning and organizing your curriculum, which can help save valuable time in the long run. The following are the top five tools you will want to take note of for productive teaching practices that will help save your most precious resource: time.


Need a place to track yours and your colleagues’ requirements for a journal article due next month, while also tracking the components of your first lesson plan for Biology 100? Give Trello a shot. Perfect for collaboration between faculty members or between multiple professors teaching a course, Trello allows users to create and dissect tasks belonging to multiple projects all at once. Various boards help followers track deadlines and project requirements. Trello reinforces productivity in both your personal and academic life, by integrating with apps that you may already use—such as Google Drive and Dropbox—into your boards. This tool helps you stay on top of timelines and holds everyone accountable for collaborative projects.


Referred to as the number one tool for video assignments, Acclaim can help you easily record, upload, and organize video modules for your class. This is particularly handy if you’re teaching an online course that lacks an in-person component and relies heavily on the digital. Your learning management system (LMS) for your course can also be integrated with Acclaim, enabling your roster and active classes that you’re teaching to be synced automatically. Within course-specific folders, videos can be annotated where you or your students can generate time-specific comments to clarify a point, or to ask for help, respectively. Using video comments in Acclaim, lectures can then be tailored to re-cap grey areas while areas that your students are confident in can be skimmed over.


If you want a better sense of how much time you spend on certain tasks while aiming to be stricter in how and where your time is spent, then consider RescueTime. This app indicates how long you spend in your inbox, Google Docs and more, with time limits even being imposed on distracting websites that lead to procrastination. Similar to screen time on your Apple devices, this app delivers a detailed report on how and where your time is spent throughout the day. After learning that you spend double the amount of time replying to students’ emails over preparing a list of discussion questions for a lecture activity later in the week, you can then modify your time accordingly. This app gives educators the opportunity to track how valuable time is spent and positions prioritization at the heart of all daily tasks.


Need an app to track your planning, teaching, research and grading goals all in one spot? Strides may become your new best friend. Track your goals and habits with interactive charts and graphs that indicate how long you’re spending on one task compared to the average time, referring to previous data. The app also shows your pace working through certain projects and dated milestones help chart your progress towards an umbrella goal. Celebration notifications commemorate your work dedicated to a specific project while motivating and inspiring you to continue plowing through your to-do list.

Top Hat

While the above tools may help you become more productive in teaching and planning, Top Hat will also be just as beneficial to students’ productivity before, during and after class. Customize your own course textbook online, and ensure that students receive timely content updates in Top Hat’s Catalog: say goodbye to photocopies and requiring your class to buy the newest edition of a hard copy book.

Both you and your students can enjoy a seamless grading experience with Top Hat Test: on your end, you have access to a wide variety of questions, and students receive feedback in just minutes after completing an assessment. A newly updated gradebook also indicates the students who excel and struggle in certain areas, prompting you to reach out to those who may need help. Top Hat sets you and your students up for a productive semester, with plenty of opportunities for you to monitor your students’ progress inside and outside of your classroom.

Learn how Top Hat improves professors and students’ productivity, saving hours of time in the process.

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