How Can Teachers Achieve A Work/Life Balance?

As the end of the summer term approaches, school and college teachers will be taking stock of the academic year, and looking ahead to the new term. One of the biggest challenges many teachers face is finding enough hours in the day to pack in all their duties. Some even find that both their home life and their work life suffers because of workload pressures.

If this situation is not managed, it can lead to a negative spiral of problems, such as guilt, anxiety, stress, and even burnout. Even when the teacher is not working, they may find it impossible to switch off, and this has an impact on their relationships, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life.

When these symptoms have been going on for several weeks, it may be best to seek professional medical help. However, there are ways to take charge of your own wellbeing, and improve your work/life balance without outside help. Here are some pointers.

  1. Draw a clear boundary between work and home

Be tough with yourself, and don’t take work home that you probably won’t have time to do anyway. It will only stop you connecting with your partner or family, or prevent you from getting enough rest to tackle the next day. If you do have to work at home, try and zone off a space so that it doesn’t intrude into family or leisure areas.

  • Don’t respond to emails and messages straight away

Separate your work and home email accounts, and only reply to work emails in your allocated working hours. The same goes for social media—avoid the temptation to deal with a work issue late at night. 99% of the time, it can wait until first thing in the morning, and we often think more clearly and can give a better quality reply after a good night’s rest.

  • Accept that you can’t do everything

Teaching is one of those occupations where the workload is amorphous and ever evolving. Trying to keep on top of every little detail is a superhuman task. Instead, prioritise what is most important, and leave the rest for another time.

  • Learn how to say no

Sometimes, even the most conscientious and hardworking teachers simply doesn’t have enough time to take on another task. If you are asked to do something that you don’t have time for, even by a more senior staff member, learn how to say no politely but firmly.

Of course, saying no all the time is not ideal, but neither is saying yes to everything. Strike that balance, and you will find that your colleagues respect you for it.

  • Make time for you

For some people, making time for themselves is the hardest thing of all. However, if you continually give yourself to your job, without getting anything back, you will eventually burn out. ‘Me time’ is something different for everyone, whether it’s meditation, reading, running, or just chilling out. It’s a chance to reflect and recharge your batteries.

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