If you read my last post, How I Lost My Passion for Teaching, you know that I’m in the process of reading Unshakeable by Angela Watson. Time and energy plays a huge part in my passion for teaching. I’m often overwhelmed by my never ending to-do list, and constantly spinning my wheels while feeling like I’m never going to catch up.
In her book, Angela discusses our use of time and energy as teachers. Her words hit home hard for me.
“The goal here is to get more done while expending less time and energy.” ~Angela Watson
“Your productivity level is far more important than the number of hours you work.” ~Angela Watson
How many hours do I spend working on school related things?
Let’s just say…too many! I don’t always stay after school to work though. Typically, I’m attending one of my son’s soccer games, going to the grocery store, fixing dinner, doing laundry, and the list goes on and on. At the end of the day, I usually need a mental break from school. So, I pack a 50 pound bag (not really, but close!) full of teaching materials, my planner, and my laptop. Then, I lug that bag from my classroom to my car and into my house every afternoon! Some nights I just sit there and look at that crazily overstuffed bag, because I’m too tired to even begin what I had planned to accomplish around 3:00 PM that same day. However, there’s many too many nights I work until midnight or 1:00 AM to finish something I think MUST be done that day.
Am I productive? Am I getting more done while expending less time and energy?
Not in the least! It takes me twice, maybe even three times as long to get done what needs to be done because I’m always running on fumes. I would hate to know how many hours of my week that I’m actually productive!
Angela presents many good suggestions about spending our time wisely in her book, Unshakeable.
Most teachers I know don’t leave their work at school. They bring it home, and even when they’re not working on it – they’re thinking about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been fixing dinner while rehashing in my mind the lesson that went wrong that day, what I could do differently tomorrow, which email(s) I need to respond to, or what product I need to finish creating because I’ll need it soon!
In her book, Angela offers several ways for how to decompress after the day is done, how to create realistic expectations for how much work you can actually accomplish at home, and how you can set realistic boundaries to make your work time at home a true work-only period.
As a teacher, my work never ends, and there’s always something more that I could be doing. I have a hard time letting go and relaxing, because I actually feel guilty when I do. While reading “Unshakeable” I realized that my ability to prioritize is non-existent, and no I don’t decompress like I should!
“When your job starts to feel completely overwhelming, chances are good that you’ve either lost sight of your priorities or never set them to begin with.” ~Angela Watson
The lesson I’ve learned here is that sometimes I just have to “let it go.” That’s not easy coming from someone who’s OCD and strives for perfection in everything I do.
I do keep an on-going to-do list, and I try to prioritize my list on a daily basis. I love this editable to-do list Angela created and how I can use high, medium, and low to prioritize my tasks.
There are two versions of this list that you can download for free here.
Angela recommends creating a weekly schedule and setting boundaries for how you use your time. I can definitely see how taking those daily tasks and placing them into a schedule can make a huge difference in my day, week, and month. The key here is sticking to it and feeling that I’ve accomplished what I intended to do at the end of each day.
I used my to-do list to make a schedule for the rest of the week. I blocked off time to work (even though it requires me to get up earlier), time with my family, and time for just me. Some of the things on my list didn’t make it to my schedule, but realistically they just won’t fit! Those are the things that I’m letting go!
One of my favorite headings is from Chapter 4 “YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL AND EVERYTHING IS NOT EQUALLY IMPORTANT” – how true is that?
Prioritizing is the key to that never ending to-do list, and sometimes we just have to let things go.
Thank you, Angela Watson, for your words of wisdom and for opening my eyes to how I really spend my time and energy!