The Balancing Act

Balance. We all seek it, and often have a hard time finding it. 

2018 is upon us, and I have been asking friends, colleagues, and my students what their New Year's resolution would be. I do a "30 Day Challenge" with my kids where we challenge ourselves to progress in something independently. It can be big or it can be small. The focus is about making progress. 

Progress, not perfection!

I decided to track some data from this year and throw it into a spreadsheet. I was interested in seeing how I used my time, and what my New Year's resolution and 30 Day Challenge would be.


I was incredibly conservative when gathering my personal data, adhering to the 12 hour workday from Busy Teacher, a healthy 8 hours of sleep a night, and a low 12 hours a month of work graduate school demands of me. Being this conservative left over 20% of my time in the "other" category. 20% seems like a lot of time that I wasn't aware I had. Almost 5 hours a day of "other" time? 1.5 days a week of "other" time? 

If this is true, where the heck does it go?

In my quest to figuring out how to create more time and energy for educators, I began to break down the statistical averages of the working person. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people spend 67 minutes on average eating every day, 9.5 hours of sleep and self-care, and over 5 hours of leisure activities. Regardless if these statistics are a true reflection of the average working human being, I highly doubt educators are getting 5 hours of leisure time and still getting their 9.5 hours of beauty sleep and self-care. This is not a complaint by any means.

Rather, it is an awareness of how large the spectrum is when looking at the working people of America.

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You’d be surprised at the edge you can develop by applying yourself for an extra half hour on something—a goal, a skill, a job. Pick the time of day when you are most productive (early morning, after a jog, or in the quiet of a Sunday evening) and instead of watching a sitcom, devote yourself to whatever “it” might be. A half hour each day adds up to 180 hours of extra practice a year!
— Linda Kaplan Thaler, Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary

Some of us may not have the extra time to devote to hobbies and skill-building activities. But we should make time. It is not only healthy to put yourself first, but it is necessary. It is especially necessary to the craft of teaching. Teachers are wizards who bring pieces of their passions into their classrooms, and this is what makes learning from them so magical. Therefore, I ask that teachers force themselves to put time aside for themselves. To be selfish, even for a half hour a day, and do something for themselves. Some of that extra 21.7% of "Other" time floating around should be devoted to you. It's not only healthy for you, but will make your classroom a happier place.

Questions to Consider

What do you want to make progress in, personally?

How much time would you have to devote to that thing in order to make timely progress?

What would you need to sacrifice to achieve this progress?