Rescuing Time, Part 3: Personal Sustainability and Sabbath

We often think of sustainability only in terms of solar panels, plastic, and carpooling. As we reflect on stressed out and over scheduled lives, we may need to step back and think about how we keep our lives (and jobs) sustainable.

1. Pre-Whelmed

At a tech meeting, I was introduced to the idea of being “pre-whelmed,” i.e. feeling like you are buried under the mountain of work before it actually starts.

  • Case in point: I’ve started using Twitter more, and, as I tuned in to #edchat on a Tuesday night, I was pre-whelmed by the conversation. It was like standing in a crowded gym and trying to understand what every single person was saying and sharing.
But I want to be an intentional, CONNECTED teacher! The key is YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ IT ALL.
  • Twitter: select the hashtags or people you want to follow and enjoy what tweets you see. This is the beauty of just-in-time instead of just-in-case professional development.
  • Reader: follow a few blogs, only read interesting posts, and use the “mark all as read” button.
  • Conferences: take a session off to debrief with someone (a colleague or another participant) or write a blog post or journal entry. It doesn’t make you lazy or less committed and may even deepen what you can bring back to your school.
  • School day: think of the 10-minute casual conversations that keep you connected to colleagues, or the quick game of Bejeweled, or the 1-minute scan of facebook to watch a funny video… These distractions can also calm us, allowing us to be more productive afterwards. (And if this is true for us, when do we allow it for our students?)
2. Boundaries
  • Tweeting during a concert, speech, or presentation: Is it distracting or enhancing? For some, this might seem like whispering or passing notes, traditionally frowned upon. And that was my first reaction, but the more I thought about it, I think it actually ENHANCES my connection to the event:
    1. I get to share in someone else’s thoughts, making it a conversation rather than a one-way flow of information.
    2. They often pick up ideas or quotes that I missed, making my experience richer.
  • Technology. Sometimes I watch tv, work on my laptop, and text with my mom at the same time. The uber-connectedness feels stimulating and engaging, but screens can also be an incredible time-suck. On my honeymoon in Hawaii sans computer, the days seemed to stretch on forever. Last spring, we heard about periodically taking a Tech Sabbath, and I wanted to comment on the first two:
    1. Avoid technology. (More specifically, screens.)
    2. Connect with loved ones. (But if you need a screen to do this, that’s okay. My Saturday morning skype with my mom is important to me.)
Sabbaths don’t have to be on Saturdays, and they don’t have to be a full day. But taking time to disconnect can rescue us from an unsustainable life. Make the technology work for you:
  • connect with family and friends on skype and facebook,
  • explore new resources to keep yourself organized like rescue time and StayFocused,
  • create a PLN with reader and twitter,
  • and commit to a personal and professional practice that is intentional, balanced, and healthy.
And don’t think anyone who gives advice on this has it all figured out.
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