TM4T Lifestyle

Well this part of the website may be a bit of a puzzle to you - it is certainly a bit of a worry to me. How much should I write about 'lifestyle', when the Web is already loaded with waffle on the subject? I certainly don't intend to write a book about healthy living - you can search the Web as well as I can; however, if you are unclear what lifestyle issues are, click here.

You may even be thinking: 'what have health and lifestyle got to do with time management?'. If so, re-read the TM4T principles here. The whole reason we are struggling to claw back wasted time is so that your life - both your teaching life and your life outside school - can have as much  meaning as possible. As we are also interested in reducing the likelihood of stress, we also need to step outside the school boundary and look at broader aspects of a teacher's life: diet, exercise, sleep and work-life balance.

Important: This website is about Time Management for Teachers. Facts and proposals about Stress are provided for general information and discussion, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a health care professional. In particular, you should not use the material in this chapter to diagnose or treat any medical condition - talk to your General Practitioner instead. 

So: teaching is a stressful job. TM4T is based on the idea that most stress arises from the two Bs: behaviour and bureaucracy. Time-management is a key tool in tackling the latter and giving us the opportunity to address the former; finding us the time to teach. Our focus for this website is teachers' non-contact time; the 50% of a teacher's directed time which does not actually involve teaching. Elsewhere on the site we've focused on school, though we have mentioned a teacher's life at home, outside school, in a number of contexts.

It is clear that for most teachers - the overwhelming majority in the UK - school-life and home-life overlap to some extent. It is also evident that - for the overwhelming majority of us - what happens outside school has some impact on how we perform in school. That does not mean that students suffer as a result of teachers' life-style choices, but it does mean that the teaching could be even better without sleepless nights, hangovers, domestic arguments, and traffic jams, or whatever stressful factors modern life imposes. We all try to leave our anxieties and issues at the school gates, but that is simply not always possible.

In order to fully address Time Management for Teachers, we therefore need also to consider what teachers do in their free time. There is an understandable temptation to let free time just 'happen'. Marking. Cake. Slump. TV. Beer. Bed. This, of course, is absolutely fine, as long as:

I) It is what you choose to do
2) It does not damage your ability to teach or your students ability to learn.

Unfortunately, in some cases, a teacher's lifestyle can have an adverse effect on students, and in many cases, teachers' lifestyles do not reduce stress, they encourage it.

Stress in itself isn't necessarily harmful. We all need goals and challenges that drive us, and many of us enjoy a little pressure to succeed. In excess, though, stress can be damaging - damaging to ourselves as teachers and as people, and damaging to our students. Because Teaching is a stressful occupation, we - this means you - need to monitor the causes and symptoms of stress, and actively seek to reduce both.

To understand the TM4T perspective on Stress, click here.

Conversation with a Village Idiot

Interviewer:     I understand that you cross the road with your eyes shut?
Village Idiot:   That's right, miss !
I:                   Isn't that really dangerous?
VI:                 Well, some people say so. But it's part of the job.
I:                   Surely you'll be knocked down and perhaps killed?
VI:                 Not always, miss. Some idiots are knocked down, of course, but there are plenty of village idiots who cross roads with their eyes shut in perfect safety every day.                      There's one idiot in Cornwall who is in his sixties, still crossing blindfolded, still healthy and happy.
I:                   Might that because he lives in a particularly quiet village? Or because he is incredibly lucky ?
VI:                 Dunno about that miss. I'm just an idiot.

For those readers who don't do metaphors, we should explain that this represents a commentary on the attitude of some teachers. They haven't experienced stress so far in their careers, and don't see any point in trying to avoid stress, minimise pressure, or seek enjoyment and meaning in their work. This, employing the metaphor, is behaving like an idiot

Of course, avoiding stress is not really a primary goal in life; we all want to achieve things as well. At the most basic level, we need to decide what we want to achieve, and spend  time doing it. Spend time every week.

A week is 168 unrepeatable hours, less 56 or so hours of sleep, and 35 hours during which we pretty much have to do as we are told. That leaves 77 hours each working week when we can pretty much do as we choose.

You should treat those 77 hours as you would £77, spending it with care. There is so much to spend it on. Do not waste your time on things which give you no pleasure or genuine reward.

TM4T involves using time efficiently, and that involves remaining in the present. To understand TM4T's perspective on 'remaining in the present' click here.

Staying in the present is wonderful, of course, but sometimes we do need to look ahead. Not just to tomorrow's meeting, but far, far beyond that. To undertand about a broader perspective click here.