Ever pack a stack of papers in your work bag to bring home to grade? Only to...not grade them and then feel guilty? 

This used to be me all the time, and more often than not I would actually grade the papers and then feel guilty that I did not do more
How silly is this?! To work on average 10 hours a day (physically at school) and then to go home and work even more. 

This is not acceptable not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones. 
I was speaking to one of my best friends who is also a teacher and we discussed how we already feel like we're falling behind and we are less than a month into the new school year. We come home and try to play catch up yet we know we should be giving our time and energy to our family. And in reality we're not far behind, it just feels like we are because of our never ending to do lists that the back to school chaos brings- trainings (via online and in person), paperwork for students, getting x number of grades in before progress reports, you know the drill. 

Going into my fifth year teaching I have taken a new approach to not bringing work home- 

I simply don't bring work home. 

Now, on the very rare occasion I of course have to do some work at home. But I have now found some ways to better utilize my time to where it is no longer necessary to bring work home often. Below are my tips that have personally helped me with

leaving work at work. 

  • Get to work early! - I prefer to get to school early rather than stay late after school. Typically less people are at the school early so you are less likely to get interrupted and can stay focused (and run copies uninterrupted!)
  • Utilize and prioritize your to-do list - Learn to prioritize your to-do list so you can focus on important and urgent tasks rather than tasks that can wait (but are sometimes what we end up doing because subconsciously we are procrastinating, hello labeling everything in my classroom!) Also, write timeframes next to each task on your list, for example: 
  1. Grade (7:00-7:45 AM)
  2. Run copies (7:45-8:00 AM)
  3. Lesson plan (8:00-8:30 AM)
  4. Read and respond to emails (8:30-8:45 AM) 
  5. Break (8:45-8:50 AM)
  6. File (8:50-9:15 AM) 

Be sure to check my post on prioritizing to-do lists here for more details and the template I use

  • Keep your phone notifications off - If you happen to keep your phone on you at work, make sure your notification are turned off so you have less distractions and interruptions. If you can, don't keep your phone on you. That way you don't even have the temptation to look at it. This gives you more time to focus on that to-do list you created. 
  • Work email on your phone? Turn those notifications off too - I am very guilty of always wanting to keep my work email inbox at a zero, so in turn I have my work email on my phone. But, I have made sure to turn the notifications off so that once I am home my phone does not keep buzzing with new emails. I've decided that if something is urgent that I would get a phone call about it anyways. Emails can wait to the next morning when you get to school early. 
  • When meetings and conversation turn to gossip, leave - I love talking to my colleagues and it is usually a great stress reliever to speak to another adult during the day, especially when you need to vent. But, when the conversation turns to mindless gossiping it is time to politely dip on out and head back to your classroom and work. It took me a long time to do this. At the beginning of my career I strived to fit in and vibe with everyone, and that means that sometimes I would sit and listen to gossip when my time could have been better spent somewhere else. For example, yesterday I had a PLC after school and as the meeting was wrapping up conversation turned to nonacademic talk about students, schedules, and cookies. I slowly got up from my seat, headed for the door, and then politely said I had to run to the front office to take care of what I needed to do. I know that if I didn't leave I could have easily been stuck for another 15 minutes. 

Lastly, remember that stress is just a feeling. Work will still be there tomorrow. That paper can still be graded, just not at home. 

Using my time wisely while at school has truly made all the difference in my home life. I hope these tips can assist you in finding more time spent with your loved ones doing what you love. 

Hannah AtmarComment