Ever feel like time is flying by and you are achieving absolutely nothing? Maybe it is just me. The constant struggle of balancing my kiddos and my classroom leaves me feeling overwhelmed. I love my job, but I really love my family, and I worry that the pace I'm working will leave me with a bad case of teacher burn out. Can you relate?
Instead of continuing on this path and ending up crying in the corner, I've decided to create a plan to help me find more balance between my work life and my home life. If you're feeling the pressure, like I am, hopefully this will help you.
Simple strategies that promote work-life balance
1. Set limits
As a teacher, it can be really easy to live your job. There is never a moment when everything that needs to be done in a classroom is finished.
Limit setting for me means I am going to set a required “leave time” each day. It will probably require me to set an alarm, but the reality is my family is just as deserving of my time as my class. Right now, I am not maintaining that balance, and it just doesn't feel good.
2. Restructure your To Do List & focus in.
If you are anything like me, you have a mile-long list that contains a million “must do” items. If you're like me, you also never finish that list.
This leaves me feeling like I need to work 24/7.
Instead, I'm focusing on accomplishing three items each day by asking myself what really needs to get done.
This creates a hard limit that keeps me from feeling like I have to finish everything. Of course, if I finish my three items and I have more time, I keep getting things done. However, if I am running short on time, I can focus on just finishing my “must do” items.
I created a template for my three item to do list that contains a longer list that is broken out into each day's goals. I'd love to share a copy with you! Just click the button below to get one now.
3. Find time for self-care.
It can be nearly impossible to find “me time” these days. With my growing family and the responsibilities of my classroom, I feel like I am the last thing on the priority list.
But as the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup. When you take time for yourself, you can take better care of those around you. It doesn't have to be a huge spa day. Taking a shower by myself is a real treat these days.
4. Get comfortable with saying no.
It is almost too easy to say yes to all the extras that come up. No one wants to let their boss or colleagues…or even their family down. Then there's the worry that saying no will have long-term consequences for your career.
That doesn't mean you should always go the extra mile. Sometimes putting less on your plate is actually what you need. It lets you put your full attention on the things you've already committed to.
But HOW you say no matters.
Instead of just saying no, try out this option. “I can't right now, but I'll let you know if something changes.”
Another option might be, “I've already got a commitment, but if something changes, I'll let you know.
Or even, “Wow! That sounds really amazing. I would love to be a part of it, but I know that I wouldn't be able to give it the attention it deserves right now. Can I check back in when things slow down?”
The great thing about this is it prevents you from adding more to your plate without making you seem like you aren't a team player.
Of course, there are times when the new offer is something you really want to do. In that case, you can always be honest and let the other person decide. For example, “That sounds amazing. I'd love to be a part of it, but I am not sure I can give both this and _______ my full effort. I want to make sure I'm helping where I'm needed most, so which would you prefer I do?”
This lets your principal make the final call, meaning you don't have to worry about the guilt of saying no.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
This is hard, especially if you're anything like me. I have a certain way I want things done. It takes more time to teach someone else how to do it than it would to just do it myself.
The reality is that I can't do it all. If I really add up the time it takes me to complete certain tasks each week, I would most certainly be saving time by teaching someone else to take it over.
Volunteers are great for this. Yes, you might not get your copies organized just the way you hoped. Sometimes you might have to make some adjustments after the fact.
Classroom jobs are another great way to delegate. Again, you might be better at sorting papers or cleaning desks than your students. However, you the time you save by assigning these tasks to a student can be used to prep and plan instruction…which is a much better use of your time.
Did you grab your To Do List freebie?
Hopefully, you got some new ideas to help reduce your stress and create some work-life balance. I also hope you are able to put these ideas to use so you can spend more time on the things you love outside of the classroom.
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If you've got other tips and tricks that have helped you find a better work-life balance, let me know. I'm always looking for new ideas.