“How Do You Do It?” is a question I am frequently asked. In this post I share what works for me.
One of the questions I am frequently asked, is how on earth do I balance my personal life as a father and as a education-blogger, as well as the demands of being a deputy headteacher?
In an article published by Secondary Education Magazine, “Deputy headteacher celebrates 500th blog” the article – which I supported – eluded to me being the perfect blogging machine and teacher; on this point, I am not. I have merely mastered the art of blogging (and not my job)! In this post, I clarify ‘how I manage it all.’
How Do You Do It?
“How do you do it?” is always an opening remark from anyone who gets in touch with me, or from many of the people that I meet who know me online as @TeacherToolkit. For starters, let me be absolutely honest, I love blogging. I love my work. I get up at 6AM most days and arrive at my desk for around 7:30 AM; which is pretty reasonable considering the work load that I have to manage. I have known some deputy headteachers to pitch up to work before 6AM!
I have a never-ending to-do list; feel anxious about what I’d like to achieve at work, yet never, ever, reach a perfect balance of work and rest.
My time, allows me to have some kind of work-life balance to a degree. This enables me to arrive to school in good time ready for the day ahead; yet also support my family at home in the morning to get ready for the day. Today as a I write, after 11 hours on-site, I am now ‘speaking to myself’ on the drive home, voicing my thoughts into a dictaphone. I do this frequently – not religiously – recording my thoughts for the day. This is a ‘blogging skill’ I have developed over the last four or five years to enable me to unwind and filter my workload from throughout my day. I have found this to be a really good way to de-stress; to use my daily thoughts as plans for future blogposts which in the end, are all shared online here.
A Fine Art:
I have managed to get blogging down to a very fine art, initially spending 20 minutes on my journey home, speaking to myself and recording thoughts; and then spending 15 or 20 minutes at home tweaking the content before publication for the world to see. After 500 attempts at blogging, I can publish a decent blog now within 20 minutes. This ensures that I use my time productively on my way home and not allow this hobby to impede on my personal life too much.
Not every day is 11 or 12 hours long; although much of them are, but on at least two nights per week I can dash home at around 4:30 PM to spend some quality time with my family. I don’t always achieve it and I do like to spend one or two nights off the computer, but this does not always mean that I am ‘device-free’. It is very easy to check the iPad or my phone in front of the television and remain connected with work emails and the social media world. In-fact, it is all too easy and I often find myself once a week sometimes battling exhaustion, which as a result, forces me to leave all work, blogging and digital devices behind me in order to recuperate. I know it shouldn’t take this level of exhaustion for me to recognise this before switching off, but I do find that this is my default position in terms of work; I do love what I do and I also love what social media has offered us as teachers.
It is important to not allow work or blogging to consume your life.
If I Can …
I believe that you reading this can also, if you want to, blog regularly and reflect and share your views with the world. You can also still teach and do your job well (too). It so happens that blogging has become one of my number one hobbies. It is not all that I do, and I do believe that I have just got lucky with my audience and have managed to use the ICT skills I have to engage with a wider audience. The position that this offers me today, is a voice that can knock on the doors of ivory towers and policy makers. This is not the reason why I blog so frequently, it is just so happens to be one of the outcomes from something I have been doing for many years.
I would just like to go back to the first point I made at the start of the blog. I blog because I enjoy doing it; my work is my blogging fuel. I have managed to perfect the art of blogging so that it does not impede on my work or my personal life. Much of what you see online is scheduled or automated. Of course, this takes time to plan, but allows me to go about my personal business without being tied to a device.
As I speak into my dictaphone on the drive home from work, I still find this the perfect opportunity to unwind and reflect on the day; the highs and lows; the opportunity to think about what I am doing and the reasons why. Speaking to myself in the car – although I may look like a nutcase to passers-by – my reflections sometimes spark many ideas that I have blogged about thereafter. For example, Speed Dating CPD which has ended up becoming a huge success, not just for me and for our staff that I work with, but also impacting on others across social media. Again this is not one reason why a blog, but it is a lovely outcome at the end of the day when in reality, the truth is, is that I find myself just speaking to myself at the end of my dictaphone sharing what I do.
As I always say, if I can, then so can you.