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My Relationship With Busy

This fall has been a busy one. Personally, my husband and I are now parents of a high school student and while I have enjoyed watching our son adjust nicely to high school life, it has been a transition for us. Our daughter is in fifth grade and this fall she turned 10. Yep. Double digits. They are both growing up and finding their own passions which is wonderful but as a result, the calendar has started to run our lives.

School life is a busy one as well. This year I am over full time. I worry when program seasons roll around that I will feel super overwhelmed. Letting go is so hard for me. I don't like saying "no" and I am not the best at delegating to others. However, I have started to give myself permission to say "no" to things and to not have guilt about it. In fact, I must learn to balance before busy takes over and I am not productive anymore.

I just listened to John Spencer's podcast, The Creative Classroom. His latest episode was called, "Why Balance is Critical for Creative Work." It was exactly what I needed to hear. John shared some advice he received about balance and self care that he believes applies to teachers. A teacher is like an acrobat spinning plates on sticks while balancing on a high wire. If you try to keep all the plates spinning, you will fall off. Instead, you have to figure out which plates you can let fall. We as teachers need to prioritize our time and make sure we use our time wisely with the things that matter the most.

It has me thinking. I need to learn how to give 75%, 50% or even 25% to something. Before I do a task I need to ask myself, how much can I give? I also need to learn to officially "break up with busy." John talks about being busy vs. being productive. When I am busy, I am frantic and putting out fires. There isn't time to completely think through tasks so while tasks get done in a timely manner, many mistakes are made. Am I really good at anything if I am giving 100% to everything? However, if I "break up with busy" and prioritize I can work smarter, I have purpose, and I am really good at a few things.

I'm going to shift my thinking. I'm going to take John Spencer's advice and "break up with busy." It's necessary to say " no." It's important to decide what gets 25% of my effort and what gets 100%. I recently created my mission statement for the year. These statements are my long term goals that I wish to focus on and being productive, not busy, will lead me to my long term goals.

Move toward action. What am I going to DO about it?

1. I will put my work aside so I can be present with my students. Lately I have been sitting at my desk in the morning working instead of greeting students out in the hallway. I am a music teacher. I don't have a homeroom of children to greet in the morning but I think it is important to be available and use the time to socialize with students. Next week, I will be out in the hallway in the morning. They are a priority.

2. I joined a book study that begins in December. The book is called, "Rest" by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. This books delves more deeply into the research behind why rest is critical to creativity. If you are interested in joining the book study, you can find the sign up at the end of John's blog post.

2. Technology can be a wonderful aide when managing life. Boomerang for Gmail has been a lifesaver. I just started using it about 4 weeks ago. I can draft emails when I'm thinking about something and schedule them to go out just at the right time. This will be an enormous help the week of the music programs. I can draft all the emails I need to send out in one sitting at the beginning of the week (or when I am thinking about it) and let Boomerang send out the emails in a timely manner. Of course I have the ability to edit an email before it goes out in case any details change.

3. I am going to really start thinking about how much effort I give to other tasks. Is this task a priority? If not, what % can I give to this task?

I can't be at 100% with everything if I commit to "break up with busy."

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