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Creating a work/life balance... or something like that

November 14, 2016

Teachers know what the job entails so I won't go on about it. Instead I am going to share some changes that I have made in order to regain my health and have a life outside of work! 

For many years I worked very long hours. 7am until 5pm most days, as well as taking work home every evening. For a number of years I would go into work every single Saturday and every second Sunday. Of course, this took a toll on my health. I wasn't sleeping well and living on caffeine. I remember talking to a colleague about the pressures of the job and she told me that I needed to leave work at work and take nothing home. The concept seemed so foreign to me but I knew that I had to reduce the hours that I was doing. So I took her advice. To begin with, I would leave work and I did not take anything home with me, not even my laptop. I remember for a few weeks sitting on the couch at home thinking "what now?" I didn't know what to do with myself. But - the best thing was that I noticed some changes immediately. I started sleeping better and stopped thinking about work while I was at home as I knew I couldn't do anything until I turned up at school the next day. My productivity also increased dramatically. This was the biggest surprise. I realised how much time I was wasting but doing jobs that didn't really need to be done, or working slowly. Once I restricted the amount of hours I was putting in at work, I had no choice but to work faster. I now laminate while I am cutting papers or typing up lesson plans. I have learned how to multi-task effectively. And finally, I stopped doing all of those jobs that didn't really need to be done.  

For the last few years I have been arriving at work at around 8am and leaving at around 4pm. If I want to go in earlier and get some jobs done, I do. If I want to go in on a Saturday and get some planning done, I do that as well. While I am at work doing the 'unpaid overtime' I am getting jobs done that are important and I set myself up for several weeks at a time. I am happy to put in a little extra time and set myself up for a while and then I can leave work earlier some days if I want to as well. I feel like I have more freedom to choose now, instead of being in the hamster wheel. 

I am finding now that I enjoy my work/life balance, although there is still a little guilt at times when I leave work early! My health has improved greatly and my students are learning. I am teaching them what I need to, I just don't get too caught up in doing all the extra bits if it doesn't impact their learning. I usually have a to-do list with at least 10 jobs written down. I simply pick the most important 3 jobs and do those first. Then if I have time I work through the rest of the list, and quite often, the jobs I don't get to are the jobs that I didn't really need to do in the first place. 



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