Inside: Learn the tips that I have learned over the years about work/life balance that will help you as a teacher!
Achieving work/life balance as a teacher can be a challenge. Sometimes it seems as if coming in early, staying late, and bringing work home are mandatory job requirements. However, it is important to achieve a work/life balance that is maintainable if you want to avoid teacher burnout. And believe it or not, it is possible to have teacher work/life balance.
Here are some tips that I’ve learned from my experience that will help you maintain the work/life balance that you deserve as a teacher.
Determine your priorities and stick with them to help with work/life balance.
I use a vision board where I have my goals and priorities visually to look at each day while I get ready to keep them on top of my mind. I shared this picture of my get-ready corner in my Instagram stories and many teachers loved it! I hope it can inspire you to create a similar space in your own home.
Set time limits for specific tasks
To an extent, tasks will fill the time you give to them. Setting a time limit you can actually lean to complete a task quicker and more efficiently. It may take some time to trim it down, but if you stick with it, you will quickly learn how to work faster. You can always adjust the time as needed, as well.
Don’t context switch. Instead, focus.
You sit down to grade some papers. You start and then remember you forgot to check your email. Your co-teacher needed something, so you send it to her and that reminds you that you also needed to prep something else for tomorrow. Does this sound familiar?
When we switch from one task to another before finishing it, it keeps us from getting any of the tasks done efficiently. This process is called context switching. With context switching, you’ll get a little bit done of a bunch of things… but nothing really gets done. Instead, focus on ONE task at a time, and finish it. Only then should you move on to the next task.
Sure, some tasks take a longer time rather than finishing it in one sitting, and there’s no way you could not do anything else before it is finished. That is where the time limits discussed in the previous tip come into play. Work on that task for 20 minutes, then when the time is up, move onto the next thing.
ALWAYS have emergency sub plans on hand
I know I say this a lot, but I can NOT stress it enough. One of the most priceless things that you can have for teacher work/life balance is emergency sub plans ready to go. You never know when something will come up, and the LAST thing you want to do when you’re sick, have a sick kid, have a death or injury in the family, or any other type of emergency is writing sub plans.
Heck, sometimes you just need a mental health day! There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off for some teacher self-care… but it doesn’t do much good if you have to write sub plans for your mental health day.
If you don’t have your emergency sub plans ready, I can help you get started! Simply sign up for my FREE sub plans and you’ll instantly get editable sub binder templates, sub plan lessons for pre-k through 6th grades, substitute punch cards, thank you cards, a sub tub label, and more!
I also have complete sub plan resources in my shop and in my Teachers pay Teachers store. Thousands of teachers have used my sub planning resources to achieve the work/life balance that they deserve, and you can, too!
Be more choosy on what you “grade”
Believe it or not… you don’t have to grade everything! And this is one easy way to make your teacher work/life balance easier. Choose only important assignments to go into the student’s grade book. If you feel you must grade everything, choose certain assignments that are simply pass/fail so you don’t need to look over and correct each one. For upper grades, you can also have students self-correct or peer-correct to save you time.
Don’t be a perfectionist
You don’t have to do everything perfectly! Sometimes “good enough” is just what is needed. We try so hard to hit a level of perfection that isn’t even possible to hit. Remember, all of us are a hot mess. Just do your best, and that’s all you can do!
Set aside a spot to do any work at home
One of the benefits of taking work home is the ability to do it anywhere in my house. Or so I thought. The truth is, it is much harder to maintain a work/life balance when you do your work anywhere and everywhere throughout the house. By doing this, you are telling your brain that your home is also the place where you work, rather than a place for you to be present with your family at home.
Instead, choose a specific spot to do any work. This way you are telling yourself that when you need to work at home, THIS is where it happens. Once you leave that space, it is time to mentally turn work “off” as best as you can. For me, this space is my home office.
If and when you can… don’t take work home for optimal teacher work/life balance
And when you can… just DON’T take work home. The world won’t end if you take time for you instead of taking work home. There are things that are more important than work, and your life should reflect that.
Remember that there is no such thing as perfect teacher work/life balance.
As soon as you have a flow, something throws it off. We need to constantly revisit it and figure out what works right now. What works during one season of life won’t always work, so don’t expect it to. Be willing to go with the flow and adjust.
What are your tips for teacher work/life balance? I’d love to hear them in the comments!