Anderson is not talking about fun as in people commenting when they find out you're a teacher, "Oh how fun! Kids are so cute." Huh? Fun would not be the first word I'd choose when thinking about teaching! Deeply satisfying: yes, joyful: yes. But "fun" as in playing with kids all day. . . NO! Since I've focused on fun & joy in other posts (you can read about them here), I've decided to delve into that all-elusive BALANCE!
Handling the Time Crunch
Stop trying to do it all! There. I used to stay up well past midnight trying to grade papers, lesson plan, update my class website, answer parent emails, etc. because I didn't start any of that until I put my kids to bed. Now I just stop when I'm tired or it's time for bed, regardless if I'm done with "my list" or not. (I'm trying REALLY hard to get 7 hours of sleep a night since I've read so many studies on the effects of lack of sleep! Not always successful since my hubby & I are both night owls, but I get to bed before 11 at least a few nights per week now!)
Carve out Time for Nonnegotiables
What are the most important things in your personal life? What are your priorities at school? Make a list of the true nonnegotiables. Prioritize!
Figure Out What to Eliminate
Anderson reminds, "As you look at your schedule and lists of responsibilities, remember to consider which ones are helping you meet your needs for belonging, significance, positive engagement, and competence." Then focus on these activities!
Learn to Say No
If you're an efficient staff member, it is pretty likely that people ask you to take on more and more responsibilities. Don't worry that you will hurt someone's feelings or disappoint someone by saying no. Realistically evaluate your schedule; do you have time to take on something else? Remember that we need to take care of ourselves first in order to take care of others!
Work More Efficiently
We need to spend our time as well as possible. (FINALLY!! This is what I was waiting to read about!!) Here are some tips to consider:
- Capitalize on YOUR optimal time of day
- Balance assignments
My colleague, Olivia, whom I admire & respect so much, and I have discussed (a lot) this time factor vs. quality assignments! She teaches middle school students, so she is often drowning with literally hundreds of papers to read. She had the brilliant idea of having a numbered list of the most common, yet specific revision comments. Rather than write all over their papers, she can (relatively) quickly scan their writing, then staples the list to their paper and circles the number that applies. Students then go back and have to revise to the specific circled comment(s). They have to be self-aware and find the areas that need refining. Love this idea! Another time-saver is deciding what comments you use the most on a particular assignment, then printing labels with the comments. As I read, I quickly decide which comment applies and stick the label on!
- Minimize interruptions
Stick to a Strict Schedule
Once you have identified your priorities, then make a schedule and try to stick to it. Is having a daily Quiet Time important? Going to the gym? Reading? Gardening? Walking? If we know ahead what to expect each day, then we are more apt to keep our routine.
A note to perfectionists: RELAX a little! It's okay if you don't get everything done. It's okay if you don't please everyone. It's okay if your classroom does not look like it came out of Pinterest. It's okay if your house is not perfectly picked up and tidy. (I justify the house part to myself and out loud to my husband. . . but I've spent quality time talking to and reading with our daughter!)
If you missed the beginning of our Book Study, you can catch up here: