If you are anything like me, you are a teacher who THRIVES on being productive. This is both a blessing and a curse, because although we feel so accomplished when we are checking things off of our to-do list, sometimes we get lost in it and forget to take some time to stop and enjoy the summer!
Let's face it - summer is short for teachers, so here are my 3 secrets for staying productive during those summer months without burning yourself out.
WRITE IT ALL DOWN
Sit down with a piece of paper or your favourite notebook, and write it out. This secret was told to me by the amazing @mme.andrea from Maternelle avec Mme Andrea and it honestly changed my life. You can't begin your productivity journey if you don't have a starting point, so make yourself a delicious coffee and sit down and just write EVERYTHING out.
Here's an example of what this looks like for me:
It's a lot of scribbling and writing down every single idea that comes into my head. Call it what you want: a brain dump, mind map, idea web, etc. Either way, it may not look organized in the slightest, but at least now it's on the paper and you can start the next step!
CREATE YOUR OWN SYSTEM
So now that you have all of these beautiful items on your to-do list, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed - and that's okay! Take a break if you need to, and come back to it with a full heart and clear mind a little bit later. If you're feeling okay, now you can start thinking about your organization system for your tasks. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to do this:
OPTION #1 - COLOUR CODING: Always my go-to option, simply because I have enough flair pens to supply an entire school and I like to put them to good use! I have heard many different theories about which colours lead to the most productivity, but you can pick your favourites or maybe even colours that keep you calm and focused. Pastel colours always keep my brain feeling calm, and I like to have different options available in case I need more categories. Create a legend on a new piece of paper (or if you're going digital, on an online document!) and start either highlighting or re-writing your tasks from your idea page into organized categories. Some suggestions for categories could include Priorities, Life, Teaching, TPT, Important, July, August, etc. By the end of this, all of your tasks should be in a designated category that is easy to read and organized.
OPTION #2 - PRIORITIZING TASKS: If you're not a big fan of using colours, another way to organize your tasks is by prioritizing them. There are a number of different ways to do this; if you are a visual learner, you could create a tiered system (think pyramid shape) where you have your most important tasks at the top, followed by the less important ones towards the bottom. Alternatively, you can go back to your idea page and simply put a number between 1 and 3 next to each idea you listed. Organize the items by their numbers, and now you have defined lists of priority tasks that you can work through without spending any more time worrying about which ones are the most important!
SCHEDULE YOURSELF TIME TO RELAX
My last secret for you is to make sure that you are finding the time to take breaks. I personally am not very good at this, and it is most definitely an area of growth for me. If you struggle with taking breaks, you may find that you start to burn out. It’s crucial to find that work-life balance that we talk about so much ESPECIALLY if you are someone who thrives on being productive. If we're burned out, we're not being productive and that can lead to feelings of frustration because you are your best self when you are feeling inspired and optimistic. Here are some ways that you can do this that will have a positive effect on your mental health and will also make you more productive:
Schedule yourself time to relax. Set an alarm, or a reminder and each day dedicate period(s) of time to do anything but work.
Go for a walk! You can listen to your favourite productivity podcast, an awesome playlist or the sweet sounds of the outdoors.
Tidy your space. It is amazing what a quick cleanup can do for the brain. If you're stressed or need a break, take a second to go clean something and I promise that you will feel like a new human afterwards!
One of my favourite relaxation strategies is to go find some water. A lake, a river, a puddle... sometimes I just need some calm ripples to bring me back to being focused (see the photo below for my fave lake spot!).
I hope that you enjoyed these productivity secrets! Summer is a great time to tackle our to-do lists, but to avoid burn out we need to implement systems and breaks to keep the productivity train rolling.
One final note when it comes to these productivity secrets and *say it with me* - MULTITASKING DOES NOT EQUAL PRODUCTIVITY. I made this mistake for YEARS. I tricked myself into thinking that doing ten things at once was more productive than concentrating on one thing at a time, and I can promise you that it doesn't work. Multitasking often leads to silly mistakes, feeling of being overwhelmed, and a lack of productivity. So make sure that you're picking ONE thing at a time and getting it done, otherwise you may find that not much gets done at all.