Is your work-life balance a dream, or does it often turn into a nightmare? Caught in the vortex of grading papers, lesson planning, and tackling tantrums, you might be thinking, “Blimey, when was the last time I actually sat down for dinner with my family?” That sense of exhaustion you’re feeling, coupled with a gnawing guilt of not spending enough quality time with your loved ones, it’s not just your secret, but a universal whisper in the teachers’ lounge.
But hey, let’s take a beat. No, you’re not alone in this lopsided teeter-totter, and no, it’s not your fault. The reality is, it’s tough out there. But what if we told you there’s a way to tip the scale in your favour? This, right here, is your ticket to cracking the elusive code of work-life balance.
What if you could relish that second cup of tea in peace or finally have time to catch up with your old mate, without having ‘mark papers’ looming over your head? Sounds dreamy, right? Well, stick around, because we’re about to delve deep into how to regain control of your time, like a maestro leading a symphony. Ready to make your work-life balance a blissful harmony instead of a cacophonic mess? Let’s begin.
Sustaining your work-life balance is related to your professional and personal lives, so you don’t deprive one or the other. Both of these aspects are vital to your happiness.
If your life rotates around school only, then you are missing out on so much. You need to maintain interests outside of school to improve your work-life balance. It’s exhilarating learning new things and increases your brainpower. When your life is balanced, you have time to enjoy learning new skills. You want to share those skills with others, improving the lives of those around you both at school and at home.
Relationships are important, but you will see people behaving as though they weren’t all the time. Its mission impossible to build and maintain healthy, loving relationships when you’re always at school or thinking about school. You’re not designed to work 24/7 or live in isolation all the time.
You need to take a break from time to time and enjoy being with others who love you. When you don’t do this, your work-life balance fails
You are are always tired – Your body is telling you to relax, but you keep on pushing yourself to make the next deadline, and then the next one. You think that you will rest when you go on holiday, only your school break is months away, or you have not even planned it yet.
You are stressed and irritable – You have little patience for your colleagues and your students. You notice what everyone (including yourself) is doing something wrong. Road rage takes hold of you quickly, even if you usually have an easy-going personality. Stress may even be taking a toll on your health, causing headaches, weight gain or difficulty sleeping.
Your healthy habits fall by the wayside – You used to take time to read or contemplate each morning, exercise regularly, and eat healthy meals. Now you can’t open your eyes until you have pressed the snooze button at least five times, and there isn’t a free minute for exercise, let alone a full gym session. As for meals—you don’t even notice what you eat for lunch because you’re too busy replying to an email from the principal while you are eating.
Your social life doesn’t exist – You have meant to call your best friend from high school, but you always have too much to do. You have declined so many social invitations that your friends have now stopped inviting you. The conversations with your loved one revolve around the things you need to do. You find yourself feeling lonely often, even when people surround you.
You always say ‘yes’ – People are constantly asking you to contribute, and you do not want to let them down, so you keep on taking more and more on. Eventually, you end up disappointing them anyway, because you cannot possibly complete everything you’ve promised.
Don’t feel guilty – If you recognised yourself in any of the above scenarios. Busyness has become the norm, and it is easy to fall prey to everyone’s obsession with doing more, better, faster. Now that you have realised what is not working for you, you have the power to make a change.
Stop constantly checking your phone for school matters after school hours. Hey, I’ve been there, but really practically all school-related stuff can wait till the next day. Especially if your morning routine is to wake up early, get yourself ready, and then look at your phone. There’s time to take action and you’re faster because you’ve had a good night’s sleep. You can easily let your teacher friends know you won’t be returning emails, calls or texts regarding work after school.
If you can’t get all of your schoolwork done within the allotted 40 hours, you aren’t alone.
Many teachers work more than 60 hours. When I talk with other high level professionals they always ask why do we teachers take our work home. It’s become the norm. Maybe we should change that norm.
Stop! Before you hit the principal for a reduction in your workload, take a look at what you’re doing with your time. Are YOU managing it properly?
Track it for a week and see what’s eating up your time. You might find there are things you can eliminate that are wasting your time.
There’s so much to do, so much pressure to do everything well. We’re all juggling obligations. We are all committed teachers wanting to do our best for our students and to do the things we love, as well as get the grocery shopping done. Did you ever wish you could just have a magic wand or a fairy godmother to help you sort it all out? Apps are your friend here.
Trying to get some balance in your life can feel like a daunting task. The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been around for decades, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Technology allows us to work flexibly from anywhere, but it can also make you feel like you never have any downtime.
No one wants to work 24/7, but the realities of living in the 21st century mean you need to take control of your time. Luckily the same technology that makes you available 24/7, can also help you get your work-life balance back on track.
Even if you feel there’s too much to do, or not enough time, you are not powerless to do anything about it! It’s time to take control, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the demands of school work, family, and life. And you can do it without becoming a hermit, renouncing your family or moving into your classroom.
If you search for ‘time management apps’ you will be amazed by the range and level of detail. There are apps to help you deal with emails, track your exercise, sleep and eating habits apps to stop you stressing out. Decide what you most need help with and what suits your style.
Here are a few suggestions:
Whatever things you’re trying to juggle in your life, there are many apps available to help you to take back control!
Or get my Daily Gratitude Journal
Your work-life balance, it’s a beast that needs taming, isn’t it? And who better than you, brave tamer of curious minds, to crack the whip and take charge?
You might still have a lingering thought: “Can I really achieve a well-rounded work-life balance? Me, the one who’s been spinning like a top?” Well, darling, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. You’ve seen the tools, the strategies, and you’re brimming with determination. You’ve got this!
Remember all those fascinating apps that could become your new best mates? They’re ready and waiting to make your life a whole lot simpler. And the newfound time for your loved ones and personal interests – imagine that! Those precious moments will refill your reservoir of joy, making you an even better teacher. Because let’s face it, a happier you equals a happier classroom, right?
Embrace the challenge. Your work-life balance isn’t a mythical unicorn, it’s a reality waiting to happen. So take a deep breath, grab that conductor’s baton and lead your life’s symphony towards a harmonious crescendo.