It has been two months since my last blog post but I promise I have a fantastic excuse. Check it out.
So I’m a dad now. How does that change things?
Above all else, it means I need to learn about a little thing called “work-life balance”. This is a concept that does not come easily to me. To understand why the idea is so foreign to me, we need to go back to my childhood.
Where I learned to work
I grew up the son of a workaholic Italian immigrant. I watched him work 80 hour weeks on the family farm and in the family fruit shop (could we be more Italian?) throughout my childhood. From sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week, he worked endlessly. Because our family home was attached to the fruit shop and the farm, our life and his work were as one. My siblings and I all worked with him as soon as we were old enough to plant a cabbage or serve customers in the shop. Work-life balance? Who needs it?
Then I became a teacher
For somebody already predisposed to becoming a workaholic, being a teacher is not a great idea. Being a teacher can be all consuming if you allow it to be. If you’re reading this blog the chances are you already know this. The time you spend in front of your students is only a small fraction of your teaching life. You inevitably end up bringing work home with you. Marking papers, preparing lessons, worrying about little Timmy. It’s neverending.
In 2016 this work-life imbalance reached fever pitch for me. Work sat over the top of everything I did. While I was showering, I was planning my lessons. On the drive to work, I listened to an education podcast. On the drive home, I voice-typed a blog post. Once home, I created a video lesson for my students, took part in a twitter chat or marked diagnostic exams.
2016 was a great year for me professionally and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. But we can always improve and i can definitely improve my work-life balance.
So 2017 needs to be a little bit different. I’ve got a little guy and he’s only going to be this little once. I don’t won’t to miss it!
The Work-Life Balance Plan
So here’s some ideas for how I’m going to balance this whole thing out in 2017.
- Work Harder
Nope, that’s not a typo. In 2017 I’m going to work harder than ever before. But only when it’s time to work. Sometimes I find myself agonising over some marking or watching some Netflix while simultaneously writing a blog post. Not this year! If it’s time to work, I’m going to work HARD.
- Work Smarter
In the morning, I’m refreshed and firing on all cylinders. This is the perfect time to write a lesson plan, make a video for my class or mark some exams. In the afternoon, I’m running out of steam. This is a perfect time to reply to emails, make any phone calls to parents or schedule a meeting. This is really about getting to know myself and how I work best. Then taking advantage of that.
- Make lists
I know I’m “the tech guy”, but nothing helps me prioritise like a nice handwritten list. Getting a good list written first thing in the morning and knocking each task off is a great way to make sure I get my work done when it should be done.
- Leave it at work
I’ve learned that work will expand into the time you allow for it. The more work I do at home, the more work I seem to find myself to do. I’m doing my best to leave my work at work this year. It won’t always be possible I know but I’m going to give it my best shot.
For those worried that this means I won’t be blogging in 2017, Fear not. When it comes to work life balance, what you’re really talking about is priorities. Self-reflection and sharing my practise with other teachers is a big priority for me. As such, the blog is now up and running once more.
How’s your work-life balance? Got any tips for me on how to keep this thing in check? Comments below are definitely welcome.