Since 2020, online teaching has taken the world by storm. As educators, we are often juggling multiple tasks, adapting to new teaching strategies and content, all the while striving to provide the best learning experience for our learners. Through technology and resilience, we have proven that we can stay connected – but as we find ourselves online more often, how do we find a sense of balance?
The significance of work-life balance
For online teachers, work-life balance is a vital component of our overall wellbeing. This means finding the sweet spot where we can provide quality education without compromising on our own needs. Without a healthy work-life balance, you can compromise your physical and mental health, your quality of work, mental clarity, and interpersonal relationships, which can lead to burnout.
Burnout is more than just exhaustion; it’s a state of physical and emotional depletion that results from chronic, unrelenting stress – this stress is often exacerbated by the anxiety caused by a lack of work-life balance.
Crafting a balanced work-life routine
Achieving the balance between your personal and professional life isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour; it’s a dynamic journey that requires continuous adjustment. Achieving this balance empowers us to excel in the virtual classroom, engage with our learners, and maintain a healthy routine.
These are the strategies that work well for me:
- Embrace routine and structure:
Flexibility is one of the significant advantages of online teaching. However, without a structured routine, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and personal life. I have established a daily routine, including regular breaks, that helps me to stay organised and allows me to set time aside for self-care.
- Drawing the line between work and home
Experience has taught me that I focus better when I have a separate, productive space to work. A separate workspace at home, specifically dedicated to teaching and other work tasks, enables me to mentally transition into “work mode” – and allows me to switch off when I’m done working by physically leaving this space.
- Fostering connections
Without any in-person contact with learners and other teachers, teaching online can become an isolating experience. It is essential to reach out and stay connected with my peers during work hours to strengthen professional relationships – this provides a safe space where we can experience a sense of belonging and support.
- Setting boundaries
Through smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices, technology allows us to be more connected, regardless of where we are. However, this can lead to a feeling of being “always on”, where work seeps through to my personal life. Establishing clear boundaries is critical – I do this by clearly communicating my work hours to parents, learners, and other teachers within the Impaq Online School community. Resisting the urge to check emails and other work-related messages outside work hours also strengthens my mental wellbeing.
- Prioritising self-care
In and of itself, teaching is extremely demanding – even more so when teaching online. Making time for myself through regular exercise, following a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep helps me to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Sometimes, you just need to step away from the computer!
Progress, not perfection
In pursuing work-life balance, remember that it’s about progress, not perfection. Maintaining work-life balance is an ongoing commitment to your wellbeing, personal fulfilment, and professional success. By implementing these strategies and customising them to your unique circumstances, you can take deliberate steps towards finding a healthier work-life balance.