Don’t wait until you retire to start that hobby you have always wanted to take up…

Whenever older staff are retiring, or the conversation of not working comes up, I am instantly one to put my hand up to say I 100% would be OK with doing this now. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work, but the idea of not working and being able to take up all of the hobbies I dream of doing sounds great to me!

But here’s the thing, why wait until I retire to do the things I want to do?The Teachers' Coach

I have been a bit up and down lately (let’s just blame this on normal work and life stress) and when working with my coach (because we should all have one), she asked me what I do for creativity, as an expression of me, where my juices flow… well, nothing really, I thought.

To be honest this shocked me. I am someone who loves being creative and crafty, I always took an art class at school and I love to doodle and draw my way through meetings and PL. What I realised though, is that I have absolutely let this part of me go, or rather, put on hold.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, just something that has happened over time, as life got busy, routine took over, along with longer work hours and trying to balance everything out, my creative outlets have completely disappeared.

Growing up you would find me in my room after school dabbling in all kinds of things; jewellery making, drawing, sewing, baking, knitting, painting… I even painted a giant sun mural on my wall when I was about 15.

Now though, I just don’t do anything. I have tried a few times to get back into it, but this more often than not results in me taking some kind of class, buying all the resources to do this at home, where unfortunately the items just become dust collectors and never reach their full potential.

I have a cupboard full of silicone bakeware from the time I was going to take up vegan baking, a selection of rope from the time I did a macramé class and was going to make something extravagant for my wall, and a bag of stones I collected from the beach from the time I was going to make some stone art for family, and this is all in the last 18 months.

I think I need a hobby!

I mean, I actually need to take up and do one of the hobbies I have started…
I don’t need to wait until I retire to take these things up, what I need to do is make them part of my weekly routine NOW!

I am aware of all the great things having a hobby can do for you, yet for some reason, I think these don’t apply to me. I am wrong though. I need a creative outlet just as much as you do.

So here I am committing to taking up macramé and stone art (I’ll leave the baking this time). Watch this space, there are some cool things coming your way soon!!!

Holiday Reading – My top 5 non-fiction book must reads!

For those of you who don’t know, I am an avid reader. I love to read and try to do this daily. From fiction to non-fiction, a good novel or the latest self-help book, reading is a must. I am also known to have more than one book on the go at a time too, which means reading a book the whole way through can take a bit of time… but I am totally OK with that!
Reading should not be one of those laborious tasks where you feel compelled to read every word front to back, even though you are not enjoying it. I was once told books are great tools if you take from them what you need, and stop when you have exactly that. Sometimes this is a whole book, especially a great novel, with non-fiction that might be is a few chapters at the start and then whatever else is of interest to me as I flick through the chapters.
With this approach, I can read more than 1 book at a time, and read quite a few books each year. It also means I have books for entertainment and enjoyment and books for learning. The key is to know what you like to read and when you like to read it. For me, non-fiction is great in the morning or throughout the day and novels are a leisure activity I enjoy in the evening and before bed.
For now, though, I am recommending my top 5 non-fiction books. Why? Because non-fiction books, I believe, are an overlooked way of supporting each other. These books have done wonders for me, and I think they will for you too.
If you are looking for a book, here a 5 I have enjoyed lately which may also be enjoyed by you too.

1.    The One Thing – Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
This book is a great quick read for those of you who need help defining what to focus on and which tasks need competing. It looks at goal setting and how to use this to help you with what you need to do now. I also found this same method can be broken down and applied to yearly and weekly tasks.
 
2.    Atomic Habits – James Clear
As humans, we so often do things without even knowing. In this Book, James Clear looks at habits and how as humans we are constantly acting out our habits with little to no awareness of how they are impacting our life, creating a barrier for us or how one small change of habit can have a big impact with ongoing ripples.
If you are stuck moving forward or have a goal you haven’t been able to achieve, this book will help you to identify and make changes to those pesky habits you didn’t even know where there.
 
3.    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a… – OK. So the title may be a little off-putting, but the book its self has some hidden gold. If you are someone who finds it hard to let go of things, constantly worries about what others may say, do or think or spend most of your time making decisions and doing things so others will be happy while you suffer, get your hand on this book and start reading now!

4.    Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
Fear holds us back from doing so many things. It hides in ways we don’t even know and is so sneaky it will surprise you when you realise it is there. This book is great if you have a sneaking suspicion fear is stopping you from doing something in your life; the classroom, your health, confidence, anything. With an insight into the science of fear and also how to overcome it, this is a must read for everyone.
5.    Dare to Lead – Brene’ Brown
In her newest title, Brene’ talks about leadership, and how this links to us as leaders. As teachers, we all play a leadership role in one capacity or another. The leader of our students, leading a team, taking the lead of planning, leading a staff meeting or leading other teachers. Everyone can learn something from this book (actually any Brene’ Brown book is a must read).
 
Read one, read all or read none. Great books aren’t; going anywhere so make the time to read what you can when you can. Reading is self-care, self-love and showing self-worth. Make this a part of your holiday, you are worth it.

Happy Reading!

Work/Life balance means sometimes doing more work

So here’s the thing. We all want work/life balance, but work/life balance comes in two parts; work and life.

This means that whether we like it or not, as much as we have life, there is also work, and sometimes this means rolling your sleeves up, putting in the hours and getting the job done!

There are times as a teacher where our workload can be a little, or even a lot higher. For me, I find this occurs around 2 key points. Reports and end of the term.

Reports are probably the most time-consuming part of our job. The hours spent analysing student work and assessment, moderating with colleagues, compiling and writing comments and ticking boxes, it’s a big task. End of term for me is similar because I am a believer that if you do the work at the end of the term for the next term then you really can go off and enjoy your holidays.

This is all part of work/life balance.

If you want to enjoy holidays or weekends, than at these crucial points in time the workload during the day simply must increase. Otherwise, the choice you are making is to take work home and complete it on weekends and holidays, now if this works for you then that’s great, but for me, I like my life part of work/life balance to be exactly that – life!

Now because this is my choice, around report writing time and end of term I simply work harder, more hours and stay later to get the job done. I choose two nights a week to stay until between 6 and 7 pm to do reports, and at end of term another late night or to make sure the next term is organised to where I know I won’t have to do work in the holidays and can start week 1 day 1 as if it was tomorrow.

What does this mean? Well, by doing a few late nights, putting in the time, and getting organised I am now free to enjoy weekends and holidays, rest and relax without the doom and gloom work cloud looming over my head and can switch my brain off completely knowing everything I need for when school goes back is taken care of.

For me, this is self-care, this is work/life balance, this is what allows me to not have to work at home – EVER! This means I can do all the things I love; travel, spend time with family, read, play, be outside, rest, relax, laugh, sleep in and try every new coffee shop in town, EVERY weekend and EVERY holiday!

 

Now I understand this option isn’t available for everyone, but you do have the choice to decide when you can work hard and when you need time for other things. You have a choice around how you use your time. The thing here is to use it so that it serves you, whatever that may be for you. For me, it is a no-work holiday and no work on the weekend. If you feel most of your holidays or weekends are spent working, especially at these points of time through the year, ask yourself where you can make some small changes to allow you to have better work/life balance?

Stuck? contact me and mention his blog and we can work it out together.

I didn’t open my laptop for 2 weeks. Here’s what I learnt…

Recently I went to NYC on a holiday. Now, this was lifetime dream, dream come true, once in a lifetime kind of thing. I’m not new to travelling. I have lived overseas, London specifically, spent weekends in Paris and weeks relaxing in Thailand and backpacking Egypt. What I have found though, as I get older, travelling is still easy, but switching off is not.

I have become accustomed to packing for all kinds of ‘what if I feel like doing work’ moods I may encounter while on holiday, which is by far very different from my minimal, throw it in the bag, backpacking days. This means I take with me my laptop, tablet, kindle, phone with all the apps, notepads, journal, coloured pens, a few highlighters, even post-it notes!

This is great right? It means I am prepared to read, write, study, make notes, plan, brainstorm, send an email, all of it, whenever I like. Actually, it is not so great. This also means I am continually staring at reminders of the work ‘I should be doing’. You see, whilst I think I am prepared for the opportunity to do work if it arises, what I realised I was unconsciously doing was putting pressure on myself to do work when I really should be on holiday. See, not so great.

We all know there is reason for actually having a holiday, you get to relax, see new things, be with people you love, sleep in, go on adventures, eat great food and sometimes do nothing, but if your laptop is always there in the corner, looking at you and giving you gentle reminders that work still exists, your ability to be fully on holiday may be interrupted more than you think. The glance out of the corner of your eye, seeing it as you walk past, opening it only to tap on a few keys, all this does is increase the pressure you are putting on yourself to do work, and this is not a holiday at all! This was me, every holiday for the last few years.

You see, there is a difference between being on a holiday physically, and being on a holiday mentally. All teachers need a mental holiday as much as they need a physical holiday, you and I included.

The week before I went to NYC I got sick, incredibly virus-like, couldn’t get off the couch, open my laptop or even speak sick. It was awful. But it was also a sign, I needed a mental holiday as much as I needed a physical holiday. Even though I was physically sick, I knew this was my body’s way of telling me to stop. I was mentally exhausted, I had been working too much, too hard. I knew this because my last few weeks of self-talk had been something like ‘only 2 more weeks to go, you can do it’, ‘hang in there, 8 days left’. Only I couldn’t hang in there. I was done, and my body made sure of it.

During this week I knew I needed to make some changes. The first step was to ensure I would go on my holiday and actually have a holiday, mentally and physically, no laptop. This was actually suggested to me a few days before by my coach, but I just wasn’t ready to hear it. Now though, I was listening.

So, I made the decision. I was going on holiday, no laptop, no work, no email. Only books and a journal. That’s it. That’s all I took.

Now, this was hard for me. Really hard. At the start of my trip, I felt like something was missing, I even panicked a little going through airport security because I couldn’t find it in my bag, only to remember it was safe and sound at home. I felt a little sense of excitement at this moment, I was actually going on a real holiday, no laptop, no work, no email.

Boarding the plane was also a reminder of the lack of laptop, it wasn’t there to protect or lift out as I put my luggage overhead. It was at this moment something strange happened. Sitting down for taking off, I felt my body fill with some sort of sense of sensation, relief, calm, my body was releasing all the tension and stress I had been carrying with me about the fear of not taking my laptop. For the first time in quite a few years, I was going on holiday just for me, to be with my partner, to have fun, laugh, sleep, live, love, no laptop, work or email, and I knew everything was going to be OK.

It was in this moment I realised I had been missing out on so much. The rush, the pressure, the ‘what’s next?’, this is what I had been focusing on. Not the now, the present, the moment. I had been completely missing the now.

It was here I made a decision, a commitment to myself, give myself more time and space, to be me, to laugh and have fun, to read, to love, to be, to be present. I am not saying this is easy, it surely is a skill, and something I am working on, but without this thought, you are just going through life, and not actually being in it. Awareness is the first step.

Be in your life.

So, did I survive? Yes, I did. Everything was just as I left it when I returned, apart from a few more emails, nothing drastic though, nothing I couldn’t handle, the only thing difference was me. Me. Committing to change my life to be in it, not rushing through it. Being present in the now, knowing what each moment is for, living, loving and being in my life.

I know for some of you this may seem hard, and as I shared, it was for me too, but the thought of missing out on your life is harder. Put your laptop away, make time for you, set time aside to really be present at the moment, build the skill until it is a habit, until it is you.

Need help, I’m here with you. Reach out. Let’s get your life back.

Mention this blog for your free strategy session NOW!  

Getting things done on time – why deadlines actually help to give you more time!

Deadlines can sometimes be scary. Deadlines put pressure on people. Maybe they make you feel anxious or overwhelmed, maybe a deadline even makes you doubt yourself, and whether or not you can actually do the job.

Not all deadlines, however, are the same.

Deadlines are also a way of making sure something happens.

By putting a deadline in place, it can increase our productivity, it can make us more focused and it can ensure that we use our time more wisely.

By having a deadline our thought patterns can shift. A deadline can create urgency around something, it can make it more important, it can become a ‘must do’.

Our life actually has deadlines in it all the time.

A birthday is a deadline. A birthday is a point in time which you must meet if you want to wish that person happy birthday, if you want to give them a gift, make them feel special and show that you care. A birthday is a deadline you can’t miss. You can’t put someone else’s birthday off you, can’t change the date and you can’t get to it later, it is a deadline that you have to meet. Paying off a holiday is also a deadline. If you don’t make the payment, you don’t go on holiday. Now we all love holidays, so the urgency around making sure that we pay for the holiday is a very important deadline.

Why is it that we can adhere to some deadlines in our life but not others? And why is it that some things have deadlines and others don’t?

Deadlines have actually changed how I see the simple tasks in my life. Planning, report writing, writing my logs, scheduling my FB posts; I give each of these things a deadline. By putting in my own deadline, I am saying to myself, that I commit to getting this done by a certain point in time.

This is important. It shows I value my work, it shows I value my own time and it shows I value the tasks I need to complete.

Now some people find this really hard to deal with, I even get questions about why I structure my day in such a tight, routine way. But this all comes down to one thing, productivity. By having deadlines in place, I allow myself to be productive, and when I’m productive it means that I get things done, and when I get things done it means I have more time to do the things I love.

Deadlines and productivity for me at all about freedom. Essentially we are all aiming for some sort of freedom, whether we realise it or not. Freedom means we have time to do what we love, we have time to spend with our loved ones, time to read, time to go on more holidays and have more adventures, time for more variety in our life and time to be more relaxed and happy. Ultimately this is what we are all aiming for. It is part of achieving work-life balance.

Deadlines are a reflection of excellence. By meeting deadlines it shows that you have a high standard around yourself, who you are, how you carry yourself and how you act. It’s not about saying that you value necessarily the task or the work at hand, it says that you value your time, you value yourself and you value what you give.
So if you struggle with time, if you struggle with deadlines, if you struggle with productivity or if you struggle with getting things done, I suggest you start introducing deadlines along the way, even for the small tasks. Try introducing deadlines for marking, try introducing deadlines for putting up a display, try introducing deadlines for when you want to have all your lunches made for the week, when you want the washing to be done, or deadlines for when you finish working each night or being on social media.

If this sounds like something you would like to implement, take advantage of my 20-minute FREE strategy session and we can talk about how to improve the deadlines and productivity in your life. PM or email me to book in your time now.