On Teaching: 5 Tips for a Workless Weekend

Happy end of November! In news that will surprise no one, being a teacher continues to be hard. 

I have three teaching weeks left in 2022, and with the frenzy of the season plus shortening days and colder weather, maintaining a healthy work life balance is critical right now. My mental health is counting on it. Lately, it’s been especially essential that the weekend feel like a break from every aspect of teaching. On Saturday and Sunday, my family needs me, my writing needs me, and I need me. But how do I pursue the holy grail of a workless (or at least work-less) weekend AND chase away those Sunday Scaries that creep up as Monday approaches? With clear boundaries, a rest-oriented mindset, and a little creative scheduling. Here are five things that are working for me right now (subject to change imminently).

  • Make your schedule work for you. Friday after school is pretty dead. I used to rush out (hello happy hour!), but now I stay. The building gets really quiet, no one pops in to interrupt me, and I have the copier all to myself. With the help of a chill playlist, I can quickly wrap up important grading, organize slides and handouts, and make sure everything is ready to go for my 8am class on Monday. This usually takes about an hour and I still have time to meet up with co-workers or go home and crash. Also, while planning on Friday, I just worry about getting through Monday because those Sunday scaries are all about getting through Day 1. Luckily, I have a big prep period on Monday afternoon, and that is when I worry about the rest of the week. I am very protective of these prep times and do not offer them for meetings. They are solely for planning. Creating these kinds of boundaries isn’t always possible, but if you can maximize your schedule to minimize weekend work – do it! 
  •  Work or don’t work, but don’t waste time fretting about it. If I decide to do weekend work, I don’t procrastinate. I had to learn this the hard way after wasting many weekend hours feeling angsty and worked up thinking about what I should be doing instead of just getting it done. Now I use my bullet journal to create an essential list of what I need off my plate and off my mind immediately and work as quickly as possible to check things off. 
  • Read your emails but don’t take action. I don’t like surprises. I prefer to check my work email at a few designated times, but I do not take action except to note what things need my attention when I get to school. A meditation practice of letting go can be really helpful here!
  • Pack up early on Sunday, not at the last minute. I try to get some of the chores of getting ready for Monday on Sunday morning when I have a little more energy. Picking out clothes, packing a lunch, and cleaning out my work bag are tasks I do not want to worry about later in the evening when I am tired and trying to squeeze in a little more relaxation. 
  • Create a Sunday evening routine and go to bed early. Sleep is important and on Sunday night sleep is VERY important. It’s nice to wind down a little early with low energy activities like family board games, a cozy movie, relaxing music, home facials, journaling, etc. Whatever feels good (definitely not grocery shopping or folding laundry). Then at a reasonable time, shut it all down and go to bed. You can’t worry if you are asleep and your Monday self will thank you.

Hope these tips help. For more support, read Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. I also loved this article on the concept of balancing ballast. Let’s keep these ships upright! 

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