Is it impossible to achieve teacher work-life balance success? Take a 3 minute break before you read on, to do the work-life balance quiz below. Click Enter to open the door.
I recently conducted a work-life balance survey with 450 teachers, where 72% are less than happy with their teacher work-life balance.
The biggest challenges reported were finding time to plan, mark, and having quality time with family. All humans need to be able to socialise, relax, and care for themselves to have happiness.
With technology blurring the boundaries between work, family and personal space, life is speeding up. If you feel that you are always rushing, and your to-do list is getting longer and longer, you are certainly not alone. Let’s look at some signs where you may have taken on too much.
You 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 cannot 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 are too busy replying to an email from the principal while you are eating.
Your social life does not 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 while 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. Stop! Before you hit the principal for a reduction in your workload, take a look at what you’re doing with your time. 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 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 feel like we never have any downtime. While no one wants to work 24/7, the realities of living in the 21st century mean you need to take control of your time.
Luckily the same technology that makes us available can also help us get our lives back into balance. 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!
Sustaining a work-life balance is related to separating your professional and personal lives, so you don’t deprive one or the other. Both of these aspects are vital to our happiness.
Grow Your Interests
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 quality of life. 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 we see people behaving as though they weren’t all the time. It’s mission impossible to build and maintain healthy, loving relationships when we’re always at school or to think about school. We’re not designed to work 24/7 or live in isolation all the time. We need to take a break from time to time and enjoy being with others who love us. When we don’t do this, work-life balance fails.
Your school needs teachers who are productive and balanced. You shouldn’t be working 24/7. Don’t stay at school for unreasonably long hours, or work all weekend. The value of your teaching will become inferior since we are built to focus and work for certain amounts of time. Teachers who maintain a work-life balance are more productive both in the classroom and in life than those who don’t.
Take a look at the Go HERO course for work-life balance. It gives you a 20 hour PD certificate too.