A typical day involves waking up between 5am and 6.45am depending on how much work/pressure there is at school. I'll usually be in school between 6.45am and 8.00am. That's a huge window. I don't like rush hour traffic, whether I'm cycling or catching the bus, rush hour seems like a really inefficient time to travel. Like many teachers, I like to get in early, I can work undisturbed for a good hour and get a lot done. Or so it seems. Students this year have also started coming in at 7.15am, I'm not sure why, but I don't think it's healthy.
I usually leave school between 5.30pm and 7.30pm. On some occasions, I will leave at 4.30pm or 8.30pm. Here comes Kathryn's advice, set your working hours. Do what matters most to you, what will actually have the most impact on teaching and learning. The things that are "important". The rest can wait or be put off. After further lengthy discussion with some of my colleagues and my wife, I decided on the following Manifesto.
- I will only check e-mail between 7am and 7pm.
- I will prioritise exam/coursework marking over non-coursework marking.
- I will not take physical homework home. It can all be marked in school. Digital homework can be taken home on a memory stick.
- I will go to sleep every working night before 11pm, this way I will get 7 hours sleep every night.
- I will have a caffeine/stimulant free life-No coffee, tea, pain killers just water. This way I can listen to my body.
- I will meditate at least 10 mins twice a day.
- Once a week, I will leave work by 4pm.
- I have yet to figure out exact working hours, but I will do a one week pilot, trying 10 hours a day at work (max). 90 mins at home a day (max). With smaller time windows, I hope that I will procrastinate less, be more productive, more energetic and more rested. I will definitely get the important stuff done, as time is much more valuable now. I will also get to spend more time with my wife, who shows great compassion in tolerating my current work-life balance.
Personally, I don't think life is very different. To quote a famous rapper (bonus points if you can name him):
"Time is the most important element in our lives that we can't afford to waste".
We need to work more efficiently, more effectively and more sustainably. Our bodies will tell us if we're not doing this through those tell-tale headaches, migraines, chest/back pains, skin complexion, quality of hair and general stress. I'm pretty certain that less stress leads to a longer life, a longer career and a happier life and career.
Thanks to Kathryn Lovewell and TeachMeet London for inspiring this post.