Friday Reflections: Schedule your Priorities

Not only are teachers wrapping up this year, but they are also knee deep in planning schedules for the upcoming year.  Scheduling may seem like a look at numbers with “blocks” and “periods” to manipulate, but really it is a practice of commitment to shared values.  

Time is a finite resource that we cannot make more of, so we must be wise with how we spend it.  These decisions communicate to us and others what means the most to us.  What time must we guarantee so that we may have the most impact on others?  What can we let go of because it has had little value?  

If school and class schedules are so important to us, then we must take a moment to reflect on the life outside of our classroom.  Seemingly simple, it is a daunting task.  I’m not sure if we were programmed or if we just love kids that much, but we have a habit of sacrificing it all in the name of “being a teacher.” 

Teaching has become intertwined with our self-identity and pulling apart home from school has become indiscernible. Evenings, weekends, even our dreams become webs of time where we are present in body, while our minds circle with torrents of anxiety, fear, and indescribable emotion.   

But what if we scheduled our lives like we schedule the time we give students.  What blocks would we create and protect for our family, friends, and ourselves?  How much time would we claim is enough for what really matters in this world?  This answer is different for each one of us.  It calls on us to individually reflect on what we need and what we have to give.  

Here is what we can consider when scheduling our priorities. 

Protect your me time: It is not bullshit, nor is it selfish.  We need time to ourselves to recharge and dive into what makes us happy.  Every person needs something different for varying amounts of time.  Whether it is Netflix, a good book, a long workout, or a coffee at your favorite coffee shop make it happen.  Scheduling this time communicates to others that it is valuable and protected.  It also guarantees consistency with providing yourself with the mental care you need.  

Schedule in grunt work:  Pick a night or daily time frame that you can commit to the work you bring home.  Some teachers pick one night a week to stay at work until everything is caught up.  Others stay late or arrive early a couple hours a day.  This prevents us from eating up all of our nights with schoolwork, while mentally allocating time for family and friends. 

Examine your habits: We can also use time as an excuse not to work on goals or self-improvement.  We lean on our stress, so we do not have to feel disappointed if we are not fitting in those things we know are good for us.  When looking to schedule things such as working out, writing, or reading do yourself a favor and start small.  Pick a point in your day that you know is consistent and build in just a few minutes with something you feel is meaningful.  Let it grow from there.  When I wanted to begin working out before work, I slept in my workout clothes and would saunter down to our treadmill in my robe and just walk for 15 minutes.  I now, without fail, workout before work every day of the week and actually sleep in pajamas. 

Where your body is at, so should your mind follow:  We all must work at letting go of our worries, fears, or anxiety when we are away from our classrooms.  When we are with our families or at our children’s events we must concentrate on grounding ourselves in the moment.  We will not fret long over papers that did not get graded on time, but our children and family will remember if we were absent in times that mattered most to them. 

Put what is first foremost: In your moments of quiet what would you say means the most to you?  Would your schedule and the time you give reflect that priority?  This calls on us to know when to put the computer down and play catch.  It guides us to take a trip to see an aging relative.  It beckons you to do more with the one thing you cannot get back: your life.

That being said, I must wrap this up.  I am going to head out to play with my own kids.  I am going to thank my husband for the thousandth time for doing the dishes so I can work on my passion projects.  I am going to try and schedule my priorities.  After all, I prefer to be the one who dictates how my moments are spent, instead of letting the moment dictate where my priorities lie. 

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