10 Ways to Find Work/Life Balance as a Teacher
Work/life balance can be hard to find as a teacher. One of the most challenging aspects of being a teacher is making time for yourself. And if you have your own kids, this balance is all the more challenging. If you spend too much time focusing on work during your personal and family time, all the stress builds up over time. This can eventually lead to teacher burnout. (It’s no wonder that burnout is such a problem in our profession!) (Notice: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure).
However, finding a work/life balance can help prevent teacher burnout. It can seem impossible, but it doesn’t need to be if you make it a priority. Here are some tips on how to seek work/life balance as a teacher:
Getting organized can save you time, money, and most importantly, stress! Clutter is linked to stress, anxiety, guilt, and even depression. Keeping your physical space organized can help you feel relaxed. Have your students clean up at the end of each day, and spend a few minutes picking things up as well. A little bit each day goes a lot further than leaving it all to do at once.
In addition to getting your physical space organized, you can get your life organized by using a planner to keep track of important dates, deadlines, and day to day planning. This way you can plan around events instead of being overwhelmed when they come up quickly because you forgot about them!
Prioritize your to-do list
To do lists can get overwhelming to the point that it is literally impossible to check off everything on the list in a given amount of time. This is where you need to prioritize. Get the important things done first and then allow yourself to do the insignificant things when you find time. Focus your time and energy on what matters most rather than trying to do everything. Choose your top tasks for work and for your personal life each week. The rest can be started once those have been accomplished.
Avoid Chatter with Other Teachers during Planning Time
While making friends with the other teachers at school is a good thing, there is a time and a place for casual chatting. If you spend a good chunk of planning time shooting the breeze with other teachers- there’s a reason you are getting behind! Inevitably, there will be teachers at your school who always want to talk, and it can be hard to say no. It feels rude! I totally get it! But sometimes, you need to just shut the door, lock it, and plan. Maybe get a sign like this from Amazon? (HAHA, totally kidding. But I will be adding a nicer one to the free resource library very soon!)
Use strategies to utilize your planning the best way possible
Planning can be a time suck if you don’t use your time wisely! Use strategies that will help you utilize your planning time in a meaningful, effective way. One way of doing this is planning with other teachers in your grade. (The keyword being PLANNING, and not casually chatting). Routines are also a great way to save time planning, because when you follow the same pattern it is much easier to repeat. And lastly, not reinventing the wheel can be a major help. Use the same format of lessons whenever possible or even purchase ready to go lessons from sites such as Teachers pay Teachers.
Don’t Grade Everything
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!” (Am I right?!) You don’t need to grade every single assignment you give to your students. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mountain of papers to grade that you can not keep up with. Choose the most important work to use for a grade, and let some of the practice assignments go. Doing more hands on activities can also lower the amount of paper in the classroom and cut down on the clutter!
Try not to be a perfectionist
It may sound counterproductive because quality is important, but it’s best to avoid obsessing over the minor details. It’s important to get things done. It’s not important for them to always be perfect – especially if you take your perfectionism to a whole other level! You don’t need to have a Pinterest worthy classroom to be an effective teacher. (See also: The Big Mistake Teachers Make while Trying To Keep Up with All The Things)
Avoid taking your work home with you whenever possible
Although it may be inevitable at times, try to keep your work in the classroom. This way, when you go home, you will really be “off hours.” However, some times of year are very busy. If you can’t manage to leave it all at school during the busiest times, be sure to take a break. If you have young kids, you could consider waiting until after they have gone to bed (but don’t spend all night doing it, either!)
Make sure that you’re eating well, getting the right amount of sleep, and keeping stress at bay. Exercise can also relieve stress and make you feel better. Finding time to work out is so hard- which is why I compiled a post of my favorite ten minute workouts that you can read here! A combination of eating well, exercise, and getting enough sleep will help you both in and out of the classroom!
Allow yourself to enjoy the weekends
While teaching is your career, it’s important to remember that you have a life outside of school. Go for a night on the town with some friends. Or get a babysitter and go on a much-needed date night with the hubby! You deserve that time to enjoy yourself and your loved ones instead of spending it doing more work.
Take time for yourself
It’s important to put yourself first so that you don’t become overwhelmed or burned out. For example, at school you can take a lunch break instead of working on lesson plans or grading papers. At home, you can take a warm bath or read a book for pleasure! The key is that you are taking time for yourself- so you need to be sure to do whatever leaves you feeling refreshed.
Using these tips, you CAN achieve work/life balance as a teacher. It may be a bit of a mindset shift to teachers who are constantly in work mode. With that said, if you take this advice to heart it will make a big difference in how fulfilled you feel in both your work life and your home life.
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