Monday, 12 September 2011

The Value of Down Time

The new school year is a week old, and what a week it was. The excitement of staff and students returning to schools is always tempered by related anxieties and stresses like organizing into classes, meeting various requirements relating to class size and composition and generally just getting the year off to a good start. There have been some long days, and given the current realities, there are likely more of them to come.

Fortunately the weekend brought beautiful weather - just the ticket for folks to get outside and enjoy some restorative recreation. I spent the weekend at a golf course - not playing mind you, but running a mower and caddying in the club championship. I enjoy the solitude that working on the course affords and the caddying gave me a chance to watch better golf than I can play.

The decision to caddy rather than play was easy. Caddying is interesting but not particularly stressful. Playing is a whole other story. I get more than enough stress all week at my regular job. Hitting a little white ball might sound cathartic, but searching for it in the woods or standing over a three foot putt is not. For educators weekends need to include some relaxing downtime - activities that allow us to recharge and re-energize in order to come back to the new week ready to roll.

There's always the temptation at the beginning of a school year to immerse oneself into the job. There's an upside to such efforts. They allow a person to be incredibly organized and informed. The downside is a single minded focus that can lead to the exclusion of everything else. The old slogan "All work and no play......." still applies! Finding a healthy balance is essential.

If the school year is like a long distance run, then September is its sprint start. Like any race however, a fast start is important but finding a sustainable pace is critical. So be prepared, but also take some time for yourself. September is an exciting high energy month, but value time away from the job too! That downtime might be just the thing that keeps you going strong long after the initial rush of September has faded.

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