Every teacher knows that, to be a good educator, you have to be passionate about your work. When you were a teacher, you probably spent a few evenings out of the week grading papers or working on lesson plans.
You may have even stayed after school to help a student who was having difficulty with a subject. Managing your time was a challenge, but you were doing it. Now that you’re an administrator, however, you have a lot more responsibilities and are likely having to figure out a new way to balance work and life.
Here, we offer a few tips to set you on the right track.
You’ve probably heard it time and time again, but it is crucial that you take care of your health. You are of no use to anyone if you aren’t well, and that goes for your physical and mental health.
Self-care can take many different forms but it can look like eating healthy foods, making time for exercise, taking frequent breaks and making sure you’re drinking enough water. It’s not uncommon for educators to skip lunch because there’s “just too much to do,” but your body and your mind need fuel. You get that from eating the right foods and staying hydrated.
Take your lunch to work with you, and keep your lunchbox stocked with healthy snacks like yogurt and fruit, so you can always have a quick bite when you need it. Half way through the day, take a walk around the corner to get centered and refuel.
A couple of times a week, you can destress by engaging in a hobby that you enjoy. Painting, knitting, dancing — anything that lets you turn your mind away from the mental to-do list and pour your energy into something positive.
Along with relieving stress, creative activities also might get ideas flowing for problem-solving and strategizing. When our minds aren’t hyper-focused on our problems, it’s surprising the solutions we are able to come up with.
Boundaries with work has been the subject of much debate in the last couple of years. As a leader, you set the tone and the example for this. Establish policies about communicating after hours, follow them, and encourage your staff to do the same. For example, you can state that you’ll stop checking emails at 5:00pm, and if anything comes up after that, you can be reached on your district cell phone.
That way, you aren’t tied to your laptop waiting to put out a fire and you know that if the phone rings, something has happened that needs your attention. And speaking of emails — it’s a good idea to remove your email app from your personal phone.
It’s far too tempting to check it frequently, even when you are supposed to be “off the clock.”
Take time off when you need it. Connecting with family and friends is a great way to unwind and remind yourself of the roles you play beyond being an administrator. During your time off, do your best not to talk about or even think about work.
Instead, take the time to reminisce, laugh and catch up on what’s going on with the kids. Plan to attend a sporting event, play a round of golf or go to the movies.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Make changes in your lifestyle now to protect yourself from career-ending “executive burnout”.
Remember that the team you are leading is depending on you, and investing in your physical and mental health is the best way to show up as the best possible version of yourself.
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