How to avoid the end of term funk
You’re probably feeling it right now.
That sense that you haven’t got much left to give. That you want the summer holidays to be here already. That you’re crawling through treacle in your attempts to finish your to-do list you want nothing more to do with.
But you know you have so much left to do and you know you will feel guilty for not taking advantage of the opportunity you have right now to do something about it. You don’t want to be annoyed come September that you felt everything until last minute.
It’s a real challenge to motivate yourself to do what needs to be done for September now. You’re justified in thinking this. September, after all, is over a month away. You’ve working INCREDIBLY hard all year and all you want to do is collapse into your summer holidays.
But you also know that when September comes around, it is full on. There is no time for last minute prep. The inset days are rammed with child protection training, new mandates and whole school meetings. Time spent getting yourself classroom ready for your students is absent. The reality is that your time for September is now.
So, how can you get out of the funk you find yourself in and find your mojo again for the last few days of term? Read on to find out how!
1) Create a brain dump
One of the main reasons you’ll be feeling in a funk is overwhelm. Ultimately, you know what you need to do but because it’s all floating in your head, it feels impossible to get started.
So, write it out.
Grab an empty sheet of paper and write everything (yes, EVERYTHING) that you can think of that you need to do before the end of term and/or September.
Emptying your brain gives you headspace to begin sifting through the tasks you have in front of you.
2) Eisenhower it up!
Once you have your brain dump, begin organising it to establish what your priorities are and what you can let go of. The Eisenhower Decision Making Matrix from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People will be of great help here. The two key questions you need to ask yourself are, “Is this important?” and “Is this urgent?”. These will help you to organise your tasks into the following categories.
Urgent and Important: Do Now
These are the tasks that you cannot avoid and have to be done before the end of term.
This could involve a wealth of tasks but it might include: buying a thank you card and gift for your TA, putting together resource packs in preparation for your new pupils next year or even clearing your room for a fresh start! In the immediate moment, these are your priorities.
Not Urgent But Important: Plan
Ideally, this is where you want to spend a lot of your time because it is in this quadrant that your expertise and experience shine. For the end of term though, this may be the more medium term actions that you need to have ready for September, such as a new scheme of work. It would be great to find the time to do it this side of the summer holidays but it’s not the end of the world if it isn’t finished. You can still have a relaxing summer holiday with this sitting on your to-do list.
Urgent But Not Important: Delegate
This is probably the most under-used quadrant in teaching. Naturally, as teachers, we have to be in charge (we are the responsible adult in the room, after all) but sometimes we can become too attached to “our way of doing things”, which means we are reluctant to relinquish control and let others help.
The reality is that you are human; you cannot physically or mentally do everything! So, let others help you.
And the brilliant thing about schools is that they are full of eager and willing helpers: students!
So, if something needs doing and doesn’t require your expertise, bring others on board to help.
Activities that fit into this category can include clearing display boards, cutting up resources or even moving rooms. Children love to help and it gives them a great sense of responsibility and satisfaction to know they’re helping you.
Not Urgent and Not Important: Eliminate
This does exactly what it says on the tin: if it isn’t urgent or important, don’t do it.
You may feel guilty about this quadrant or afraid that there might be repercussions if you don’t do something on your list. Use your intuition. If it’s unlikely to be noticed (because it’s neither urgent nor important), let it go.
If this feels like too much of a step, consider how you can lower your expectations of this task without impacting the output too much. In other words, how can you reduce your time and energy on a task? For instance, if you love organisation and want to make sure your trays are neatly labelled for next year, write out your labels on stickers quickly rather than creating them on a computer, printing them off and cutting them up. Ultimately, both methods lead to the same outcome so explore how you can cut corners.
What’s the result?
By taking 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to go through this process, you will create more time and energy for yourself and escape your end of term funk.
Planning ahead gives you direction, focus and helps to get your mojo back.
So, go for it and let me know how you get on!
Gemma Drinkall is an educational wellbeing coach and helps teachers to create clear boundaries so that they can love teaching again.
Join her on Friday 15th July at 8pm BST for her FREE 3 Steps for a Stunning Summer and September Masterclass. Join here.