Whether you are a K-12 teacher or a higher ed professor, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed by your workload. While some stress is normal, if it dominates your life then it can lead to burnout. Between grading, meetings, and actual teaching, burnout is common among educators – so we pulled together five tips to help you avoid and recover from burnout.
1. Set clear boundaries
Setting clear boundaries means drawing clear lines both physically and mentally between your work and your personal life. This prevents burnout by ensuring your life is not consumed by work alone.
On the physical side, experts recommend having a dedicated workspace to distance yourself from when not working. Something as simple as having a certain spot to grade in is much better than taking your papers with you everywhere in your home. For mental boundaries, think about the ways you can protect your free time. You can set a time you will always “log off” or be done with work in the evenings, even if everything isn’t 100% done.
Lastly, when it comes to having boundaries it’s important to learn to say no to protect your time and professional capacity.
2. Block off time to unwind
Not only is it important to limit time spent on work, but you should also carve out time to do things that are critical to your recovery from work. Make dedicated time for seeing family, friends, and even to spend on personal hobbies.
Don’t forget to give yourself time to “do nothing” – downtime is an essential part of resetting so we can be refreshed for work. Also, give yourself permission to take time off – whether it’s a short trip or just lounging around, you’ve earned a break.
3. Build a time management system
Sometimes we can start to feel overwhelmed and burnt out when we don’t have a good system for keeping track of everything. Additionally, the source of our stress may come from feeling like we’re forgetting something or not being able to visualize our priorities.
This is a great opportunity to find a system to organize your tasks that works for you. Take time to explore physical and digital options for to-do lists, sticky notes, calendars, or look into free project management software.
4. Reclaim time from lower priority tasks
Not only can we manage our time, but we can also redistribute it. Consider which recurring tasks consume your time and how you can streamline them.
Maybe having students peer review essays can save you time grading down the line, or implementing online instead of paper quizzes can make the turnaround time for those grades faster.
Lastly, consider how technology can help – for example, Packback’s discussion platform can cut back tremendously on administrative tasks without sacrificing student learning.
Interested in learning more about how Packback can save you time?
5. Complete the Stress Cycle
No matter how hard we try to reduce stress, we cannot eliminate it completely. Instead, it’s important to know how to cope with stress effectively.
In the book Burnout by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., and Amelia Nagoski, D.M.A. it’s recommended that we complete the “Stress Cycle” in order for our minds and bodies to fully reset.
The Stress Cycle is essentially the body’s natural response to stress – we can get stuck in a rut or burnout if we don’t signal to our body that the stress is resolved. This resolution can be achieved by exercising, expressing yourself creatively, or experiencing an emotional release like crying.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins! When things get tough, it’s important we give ourselves credit for the little things going well in our work or personal lives. You can join the conversation on Instagram – we’ll be celebrating those wins all May for Teacher Appreciation Month!