The beginning of the school year is just around the corner and those long, lazy, summer days will be gone in the blink of an eye. However, before we all get sucked in by the manic school life whirlwind, let’s take a moment to set an intension for the year ahead and to think of ways we might find balance between work life and actually having a life. This year, one of my personal goals is to master maintaining a healthy balance of work and non-work. Read on to find out how I plan on doing it and maybe we can do this together this year; let’s do this!
1. Work smarter not harder
This is so much easier said than done, I know, but let’s give it a try. Use time in school effectively so that you can get the majority of the work done within school hours. Use planning time efficiently to talk about the actual planning and try to stay on that track without going off on those time consuming tangents. Use non-contact periods to mark and get organised for the week, the more you get done at school the less you have to take home.
2. Take breaks
Didn’t we just say work more? Nope, we said work smarter… Taking a break and actually leaving your classroom is a necessity for your wellbeing and research shows that it will also increase your productivity once you get back to work after a well deserved break during your day. That does not mean eating a sandwich whist scrolling through emails during your lunch break. It means leaving your room and being involved in some out-of-school-content conversation that will allow your brain to reset and to bond with your colleagues.
3. Stop taking the books for a ride
This will be a familiar story to many, I’m sure. The end of the day approaches and you still haven’t had time to get through all your marking for the next day, so you have the most amazing idea, to take your books home to mark once you’ve had a little rest! You take your book bag, lug the books to the car, go home with all the best intentions at heart to rest and then get through them. But once you get home, you find that there are a million other things that you’ve forgotten about, like eating, sleeping, washing, etc. that take up your time and you realise that there is no time left and that you still haven’t got through you marking. So, you just end up taking the books back the next day, unmarked. I call this, taking the books for a ride. My advice is, let’s not take them home! A pile of books brooding in the corner will only spoil your evening and add to your stress, especially if you don’t manage to get through it all, it will only make you feel worse. Leave them at school and get into school earlier or stay a bit later, or even better try live marking.
4. Prioritise yourself
To be the best teacher you can be, you need to be the best version of yourself. Whether it’s exercising, going out or staying in reading your favorite book, taking time for yourself and doing what you love will you give you some necessary personal time to recharge. When teachers are exhausted due to a lack of a healthy work-life balance, they become less effective in the classroom. Don’t ignore this basic step, I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past and I know many wonderful people who feel guilty when they do prioritise themselves; it’s a life choice, one that will make you happier, a better person and a better teacher.
5. Email curfew
If you are linked to work at all times, the line between work and home becomes blurred. Just because someone sends you an email at 10.25 pm doesn’t mean you need to answer it at 10.27pm. Some schools have an email curfew to help their staff with the email stress issue, if you are lucky enough to have that make sure you stick to it, otherwise set your own boundaries and switch off after a certain hour. Replying when you are in the right state of mind, usually in the morning, will most probably lead to a better quality email than one that has been written in haste in the evening.
6. Have a positive attitude
Choose to look on the bright side of things and try your best to have a good attitude. When you maintain a positive mentality in times of stress, you set an example for people around you to do the same. Nothing is perfect and we all have something to moan about, but let’s stop moaning for the sake of moaning – I believe it to be contagious. Do speak up when something is wrong or doesn’t work but try to keep things in perspective. Not everything is a big deal and it shouldn’t be. Changes happen in education all the time, it’s a fluid system that requires teachers to adapt and change with it, stay positive and try to go with the flow.
These are just 6 things I plan on doing this year to try to keep a healthy work-life balance. I believe that is possible to keep up with the demands of the teaching profession, the needs of your students, and your life outside of school. However, there is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to achieving the ideal balance. Find what works for you.
How do you keep a work-life balance? Do you?
Leave a comment below if you’re in this with me and let’s try these 6 steps to have the most balanced year yet!
Let me know how you get on.
Till next time…