I was reading this great time management book called 168 hours: You Have More Time than you Think. It details all these really successful moms’ weekly schedules to show how they find time wasters in their lives and adapt them to fit everything in and maintain balance. CEOs, law firm partners, advertising execs, big-time busy moms.
But the biggest revelation in this book was that these “busy” people have crazy amounts of free time in their work day compared to teachers! They roll in about 9am, fart around with emails and social media for an hour, take a lingering coffee break, then finally start to work around 10:30. Around 12 they take a 1-2 hour lunch! Then they might work until about 6. If they need a haircut or manicure or quick errand, they just leave for an hour and do it. Seriously??????
Since I can’t even imagine this kind of freedom over my schedule, I looked at how I could rearrange what benefits I do have to get some of this time. I realized that in addition to great school holidays, I get 10 sick/personal days every year. I do not get reimbursed for not using these days. Every teacher I know has dozens and dozens of piled up days because we feel like we shouldn’t use them. WHY NOT?????
So the the first way to take care of yourself like a CEO is to use all your days off. That’s right. ALL of them. All the way to zero. Every year.
If leaders of companies allow themselves more flexibility, teachers should too. Our job is at least as important as theirs, and we aren’t even getting the salary they are. Martyring ourselves serves no one.
Take a 1/2 day and get a haircut, then pick your kids up from school feeling refreshed for a change.
Take a full day and lounge around in your house BY YOURSELF! Can you even imagine??? You’ll be a whole new person when you go back to school. Your students will benefit. Your coworkers will benefit. Your family will benefit from a refreshed you.
When I started taking these “Me Days”, I scheduled some sort of appointment so I would feel ok with calling it a sick day. After going to the doctor or dentist or therapist for an hour, I enjoyed the rest of the day however I chose.
It really is preventative maintenance. While some teachers take 3-4 sick days when they unexpectedly catch the flu, I’m taking a scheduled day here and a planned day there to keep myself healthy and avoid the flu. Everybody wins.
Now that I’m used to this new lifestyle, I’m even ok with my “appointment” being a hair, massage, or pedi appointment. Prevention is prevention, right? Whatever works for you!
The second way to treat yourself like a CEO is to allow yourself to be late to stuff sometimes. As teachers, we have to time everything to the second or else really important things go really horribly wrong. It is a habit that carries over into our lives outside the classroom. If something starts at 9, our teacher minds think that means 9:00, not 8:59 and not 9:01.
I realized this on a recent staff development day. Looking back, I’m proud of how well I tuned in and took care of myself on this day. Here’s how it went down:
I was tired this morning and didn’t want to wake up when it was time to wake up, so I allowed myself to sleep in and arrive late to this 8:30am training. I decided not to be apologetic about it, to not feel bad about it, to just say, “I am late.”
It was nice. When my coworker texted me and asked if I was attending the training, I replied, “Yes. But not until 9:00. I am going to be late.”
Every time I felt myself starting to rush, I slowed down. Even just walking from the parking lot to the training classroom, I noticed myself starting to walk faster, starting to get out of breath. I told myself, “No. I’m not going to go in there all flustered and out of breath. That’s apologetic, and I’m not going to be that. I’m going to slow down and go in there calm and proud of the decision I made for myself this morning.” And I did.
No one ever asked why I was late, or if everything was ok. I think that’s because everything clearly was ok. There was no reason to ask that. Since I wasn’t projecting regret or stress, it wasn’t questioned. I love that.
The presenter seemed maybe minimally put out by it, but I just wasn’t allowing that at all. I think since I didn’t acknowledge it or feed it, that helped it dissipate.
Now I’m very glad because that decision started a full day of taking care of myself. When we got a 15 minute break, I even went outside, walked a lap around the school, and enjoyed feeling the sun on my skin.
As a result, I had a great day. I was an active participant, learned a lot, and contributed a lot in the training. I brought my best self. So not only was it a great decision for me to make to arrive late, it also set up the entire day for me to stay aligned, to be my best self, and everyone around me benefitted as well.
I’m a punctual person. It’s important to respect people’s time. And occasionally, to respect yourself, I think it’s ok to be a little late to a kid’s soccer game, or a birthday party, or even a training day, if getting there on time would mean you had to scream at your kids or neglect your self care.
Take care of your beautiful self.