Saturday, April 11, 2015

Find the Space and Recharge

I have been taking a bit of a break for the last week.  

The first term of the year has been exceptionally busy and very full on, complete with an ERO review (successful, more on that in another post) in the last week of term.  I figured the first week of the Easter Holiday break could be mine.  In fact, I knew I deserved an opportunity to unwind, reconnect with my family - you know the drill, be the wife Technoman married, and the Mum Squirt should see at least every now and again- and recharge.  

I have spent the last week sleeping in, cooking delicious concoctions, socialising and doing very little.   I have even cleaned out the pantry.  You wouldn't believe it, but I have found the space (figuratively and literally) to read several books!! Real books, with real stories - not a single educational or leadership concept cleverly hidden within.  Of course, to make room for such non techie pursuits one has to also take some time away from the digital world.  This last week I have only dabbled with social media, just for fun.  Part of this break has included not posting here.  

It has been hard, not posting. 

So much has happened this last week that has given me pause for thought or quite simply brassed me off.  In some respects, it takes more self control not to write under these circumstances than you would imagine.  

An upside about not prematurely posting is the reflection time you gain.  It is not to say I won't be posting about some of the things I have been thinking about, but when/if I do, it should afford me a depth to the writing that I wouldn't have necessarily had if I had 'rushed in'. 

On that note, it brings me to the point of this post.  It is not to simply bore you with the mundane things that have filled my life in the last few days, but to highlight two important learnings about the last week that all of us with busy lives, especially educators and educational leaders, have to remember.  

1. One must recharge 

I have been living on coffee, long hours and bad habits, for the majority of the first term.   I know that  going to the gym, and eating a good diet is critical when my schedule is busy.   However, towards the end of term when there was just one meeting after another, many of which were at night after already putting in a 12 hour day, all my own advice went out the window.   In that case, my gym gear simply took a ride in the car each day.  The thought of putting in an hour at the gym after all that time working, meaning Squirt would be in bed by the time I got home, was a sacrifice I was willing to make.  Instead, another coffee, and onto the next thing.  

Not every term is like this, and not every week is this hectic and gruelling.  What is true however, is that burning the proverbial candle at both ends will take its toll.  Recharging is critical.  Just like our phones, we don't work well when our batteries are going flat.  In theory we should be finding 'recharging stations' every day, but sometimes we get to the end of term and fall into an exhausted heap at the feet of our loved ones!   Then we are no good to anyone and worse still, we get sick.  Take some time out to do the things you love and don't feel guilty if you do not go back into work every day of the 'holidays'.  Which brings us to space - in order to recharge, you need to give yourself some space. 

2. One must find space 

Finding space is about creating time for the things that you need and want to do so that you can recharge.  In order to find the space you need, it is important to understand what it is that steals your time and then find ways to address it.  One of my big time stealers is the digital world.  One moment you are checking your FB or Twitter feed and the next several hours have flown by.  That is why this last week I have switched off and found pursuits that are tech free.  

When you find 'space' you free your mind to focus on other things.  You are more likely to be creative and reflective.  More importantly, you owe it to yourself to unwind and find the space you need to be the best person you are capable of being.  It can be hard to unwind when you are as tightly wound up as a coiled spring, but space for your pursuits and for yourself are important.   Don't feel bad about switching your email off and avoiding work related things.  They will still be there next week and if it is super urgent someone will contact you.  I am much better at this now and part of my 'space finding' journey starts with switching off the email.  As an educational leader this one is hard because you are always the first port of call and your responsibility doesn't end just because the term is over.  But as I have already said, if they need you they will find you.  

To sum up, prevention is far better than a cure.   If you can find time to recharge your batteries during the term, and the space and time you need to stop and reflect, this is ultimately better for you than having to wait until term end.  

However, life is never as simple as this.  Often practice and theory do not always match.  Should you find yourself with the kind of term I had where all your good intentions and knowledge was sacrificed for temporary survival, then I do urge you to make it a priority that you have a holiday and a good break when you do get to terms end.  The public do not always understand the pressures you are under, but do know this - you work hard and you deserve to be the person you know you are, not a shadowy husk that stress and over commitment has hollowed out.   Find the space you need to recharge.

Be kind to yourself - who you are makes a difference!   

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