In this episode of the Truth for Teachers podcast, you’ll get to listen in on a coaching call I conducted with a graduate of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. The coaching call is like instructional coaching and life coaching blended together, and I’m answering teacher’s specific questions about productivity and balance and managing it all.
This particular call is with a 5th grade teacher named April. April’s challenge right now is with trying to find balance and intentionality during times of year that are super demanding, such as parent conference week.
As we get into the conversation, we dig deeper into her social media habits, and explore how her desire to learn from and connect with other educators is sometimes swallowing up more time than she intends, and interfering with her ability to get a good night’s sleep and stay in balance.
April has given me permission to record our conversation and share it here with you so that you can analyze your habits and get in better balance, too. Some of the key takeaways are recorded below.
Listen to the coaching call by clicking “play” or the download button to listen later offline:
April: I’m still struggling to find balance with my social media accounts. I have some teachers that I follow on Facebook and Instagram, but some of it is probably idle time spent in the evening, before bedtime. I’m starting to be concerned that it’s impacting not only my sleep, but my relationships.
Time slips away so easily, but I am inspired and encouraged by fellow educators around the world. Any advice on ways to effectively manage my time spent with social media and still feel connected and up to date on ideas out there?
- This is a really important issue that I think a lot of people aren’t even aware of. They don’t notice how their social media habits impact the way they feel and how much they get done. So I’m really excited to hear that this is on your radar and you’re paying attention.
- I think for myself at least, there is an amount of time that being on social media feels good, but there comes a point when it crosses the line over to unhealthy. And if I’m paying attention, I can feel that line being crossed. I get this sense of, “okay, that’s enough, I’ve been sitting for too long, staring at a screen for too long,” or I’m starting to see the same types of stories over and over and I feel like I’m sufficiently keyed in to what’s happening right now, and so it’s time to stop.
- That’s the key–to notice when it stops being productive and healthy and crosses the line into imbalance. Notice how you feel in that moment, pay attention to it, and notice how you feel when you do get offline. Don’t judge or criticize yourself, just notice how it feels. Paying attention to that feeling will make it easier for you to draw boundaries in the future.
- Notice also when you start to feel uncomfortable because you’re comparing yourself to other people. Specifically with teaching ideas, this can be a problem, when it feels like Pinterest or Instagram have become a gigantic to-do list, like every single idea you see is incredible and you want to do it and you start to feel overwhelmed and inadequate, like you’re not doing enough.
I’ve recently joined a group of teachers doing a book study of your book Awakened, which is such an encouragement. And knowing that I have a set, scheduled time when I’m going to be online for the book study made me realize boundaries would be really helpful for me. When it’s a scheduled time that I’m going on for a reason, I don’t go past that boundary. Also, when I’m going online to search for a very specific thing, I feel like that’s also effective time spent and I find what I need quickly.
- Creating routines for social media and building it into your day at times that make sense to you is great–do this in a way that feels healthy and balanced. This is about having limits, boundaries, and goals for the time you spend on social media.
It feels more intentional, which is one of the things you talk about in the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club with “eliminating unintentional breaks.” It’s one of the key things that really stuck with me that year, and I come back to that a lot when I’m feeling too busy and overwhelmed. I think that’s going to work with my social-media time, too. Anything else I can do?
- You may want to focus on following just specific bloggers via their email list, or cutting down the number of people followed on your favorite social media platform, or create lists so you see the most important posts on Twitter/Facebook. That way you’re still connected to the people that are most inspiring to you but not filling your mind with everything else.
- I’m going to be inviting teachers to join a free intentional connectivity challenge in May. It’s completely free, and if you missed it last year, this might be a good year to do it.
- Here’s how it works: it’s a 21-day challenge that will take less than two minutes per week to participate. You’ll just read the message I send via email and implement the idea. The habit I share will not add anything to your plate or be “one more thing” you have to do, but will actually eliminate a time-waster and immediately free up your time and increase your mental focus.
- The goal isn’t to give up social media or stop using email. The goal is be intentional about our connectivity: to get on our devices because we want to, not because we feel compelled to.
- These are the 3 basic habits that I’m encouraging you to make and that you’ll be able to practice through the intentional connectivity challenge:
- Reconfigure notification settings to fit with your connectivity goals
- Create morning & bedtime routines that are more enjoyable than checking your phone
- Give your mind space to wander during moments of boredom or procrastination instead of reaching automatically for your phone
- We want to stop using our devices to waste time on unintentional breaks and procrastination, and to be intentional about when we connect. Almost every teacher I talk with feels like it’s impossible to turn off his or her brain at night and rest. Teachers feel like there’s always too much to do, too many things to remember, and not enough time for any of it. Being more intentional about your connectivity habits is the easiest, fastest, most powerful way I can think of to change that.
With the 40 Hour Workweek, I felt like I was really getting a grasp on the balance and that feeling of putting ‘first things first’ with my schedule and the list-making system. I felt it slipping away and I wasn’t sure why, and now I think a lot of it has to do with my social-media habits. If I make some adjustments and put some of your suggestions into place, I think I’m going to feel that balance come back.
Thanks for listening to this coaching call with April. If you’d like to join us for the Intentional Connectivity Challenge, use the sign up form below or learn more here.