Working on the weekend again? Here’s 5 ways to avoid it

Teaching is a job that is never done – and it will eat up all of your time if you let it. Louise Lewis gives her hard-won tips on clawing back your life

teacher workload weekends

Teachers are always busy; it seems like we’re constantly being asked to do more and more, with less and less time. 

And then there are the pinch times when it honestly feels that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

You wake up on a Monday morning knowing that the week isn’t long enough to complete everything on your to-do list.


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The panic is real. 

But why do we end up in this position? Quite often it is because we are spreading ourselves too thin.

We have a huge sense of responsibility to our colleagues, students and school. This can lead to us saying yes to everything that’s thrown our way, through fear of not looking committed, seeming unambitious or simply lacking the self-confidence to say no. 

But, should we just accept this as part of the profession? Is there is something we can about it? In short, yes there is. Here’s how to avoid finding yourself spending every waking moment on work.

Learn to say no

There will always be people asking you to take on one more task; to run that after-school club or lunchtime session. The thing is, you can say no. Weigh up the cost-benefit of giving up that extra time. 

If it disrupts your work-life balance or will have an adverse effect on your workload, say no, or ask what you could drop in order to facilitate this new activity. There are a finite number of hours in the day, and you can’t do everything.

Avoid corridor decisions

Do you often find yourself talking to a colleague when the conversation diverts to the next great idea? It is easy to fall into the trap of agreeing to do something that will leave you hunting for time. 

Instead of making decisions on the spot, tell them that sounds interesting, that you will think it through and get back to them at a mutually convenient time. This could avoid masses of unintended consequences and, at the very least, give you that chance to really weigh up the cost of agreeing to something additional.

Set yourself time limits

Are you an early-to-school person or do you prefer to stay late? Can you get everything done in your PPA time? Decide on your work pattern and stick to it. 

If additional tasks are going to stretch you beyond this, will it really fit in with your lifestyle? The impact of stretching your working hours can be far-reaching, so being disciplined is key.

Embrace your networks

Your personal learning networks could be the key to your success. Connecting with professionals from your school, local area or via social media is a great way to develop your subject knowledge, share resources and find support. This can be a huge time-saver and great for your sense of wellbeing.

Ask for time

Some positions come with extra time as a given, but others don’t. If you are taking on a new role or responsibility, try asking for time to do it - that could be timetabled additional free periods for longer-term projects or a morning’s non-contact time to complete something shorter-term.

You can’t please all the people all of the time, but you can manage your time effectively, choose what you can realistically commit to and above all else, ensure that you are not spreading yourself thin. 

Louise Lewis is a research lead and deputy head of science in a Yorkshire secondary school. She tweets @MissLLewis

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