Why Adding Work-Life Balance To Your New Year Resolutions Is A TERRIBLE Idea...

Posted by Matt Butcher on January 07th 2018
new year resolutions

I know; I know. Surely I should be encouraging teachers to stick work-life balance at the top of their resolution wish-list? That'd make sense right? We're UK-based; we're heading into the Spring term; we're fresh into 2018; and we have an App proven to help teachers achieve this very goal. The marketing strap-lines were written in November - 'New Year; New YOU!' - and I've spent the past week designing and trying to produce material along these lines; only to draw a constant blank. Not creatively - there was just something not quite right. In the last 24 hours I've seen and read enough to realise that we got it wrong. We're certainly not suggesting ditching plans to tackle your workload and improve your home-life in 2018 - on the contrary. But here's why you shouldn't cite improving your work-life balance as a new year's resolution; and an alternative approach to take.

We're very privileged in 2018 to have access to the kind of online support and inspiration that teachers could've only dreamed of 15 years ago. The number of different Facebook groups I'm a member of is starting to get daft. Last week I left the group 'Grade 5 Teachers - Alberta, Canada' after realising I'd been a member since it launched yet I've never taught grade 5; or been to Canada. It was during this necessary annual weeding session that I noticed what can only be described as a festive workload-binge. Honestly. Teachers were ditching mince-pies for planning, mulled-wine for marking and feasting on display materials and phonics schemes. This was evident on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

In the same way that the majority of the population were building fat-stores ahead of that 2018 diet resolution or gluing themselves to the sofa before the new - fitter - version of themselves burst into life on the 1st January; those teachers were ploughing through that job-list regardless of the day, event or celebration. Because I am not doing it after new-year. From 2018, things will be different. New Year's Resolution: get me a work-life balance.

But only 8% of people are set to achieve their 2018 new year's resolutions - whether they're teachers or mere mortals. It's a commonly reported figure consistent since around 2013 and the reason why we'd prefer you not to include improving your work-life balance as one of them. Don't get me wrong; I'm certain fit2teach could do our bit to help buck-the-trend for the 2018 data - but we'd rather not tempt fate. Instead let's put forward a different approach that doesn't go against the prophecy; one that we can guarantee works based on our own - less commonly reported - figures.

I very randomly read a brilliant article by Carolyn Gregoire of 'The Huffington Post' which would have placed the generic 'Get a Good Work-Life Balance' statement into the category of an 'All-or-Nothing' resolution; one with no room for 'wiggle' and born from unrealistic expectations. Since launching fit2teach, our experience shows that the improvement of a work-life balance takes craft, reflection and a period of playing with ideas and different ways of working. Our data shows that - crucially - it takes time. The bold statement of getting a decent work-life balance is the same as: 'I'm going to lose weight' - they're what Carolyn refers to as 'Blow-Out Goals' that aren't built around the small incremental changes (small changes to diet to start the process of losing weight; small tweaks to planning, time-keeping, daily routine and work-habits to improve work-life balance) that have proven so crucial for those teachers already seeing the benefits of using fit2teach. Bold resolutions are tough to keep or achieve. They represent a promise to yourself; but you'll feel let-down and deflated if you're not seeing quick results; and - as a result - often revert back to old habits far too quickly. Remember this promise might be largely out of your control and heavily influenced by school regime or policy. So - instead - see fit2teach as a vehicle to help you achieve what Roberta Anding calls a 'Reset'. Anding's reset represents a more flexible commitment to make moderate, realistic goals; small changes - not just from January 1st or your first day back at school - but every day until you start to learn what works and what doesn't. It's an approach that perfectly mirrors the way we've promoted the use of fit2teach towards building a healthier work-life balance; and our many users will tell you that it works. #SmallSteps - for our users - is widely recognised as 'The fit2teach Way'.

'Reset' Your Work-Life Balance Using fit2teach

So this work-life balance lark boils down to less than a minute per day - 46 seconds on average. Got a spare 46 seconds each day? That's all you'll need to open the fit2teach App and answer simple questions to obtain your daily work-life balance score (a value between -100 and +100). Measuring daily data allows you to take each day as it comes and literally 'reset' and re-evaluate your goals throughout the week, term or year - an approach proven to increase the likelihood of achieving specific health or wellbeing goals. Collate a fortnight of scores to play with the platform and make yourself at home (this becomes your starting-point) and then set small realistic goals to see these scores improve. Because we're measuring your work-life balance, any movement in your scores will be felt by you (and your family) at home; so conscious efforts to increase them will naturally see you with more free time and less out-of-hours school-work. It isn't rocket science. Start by leaving school earlier on a Friday and give your weekly score a timely boost; then improve that score the following week. Use the in-App monthly calendar to identify those negative-scoring, red-coloured days and challenge yourself to replace one with an orange score next month. Our in-App rewards and stickers will help motivate you and support you in your daily efforts; and our Facebook Staffroom has thousands of teachers - just like you - ready to help and become your sparring partners. Once you're hooked, upgrade to fit2teachPRO to get access to graphs, charts and more of your wellbeing data; as well as real-time f2t averages to compare your progress against your colleagues both nationally and internationally. Finding a healthy work-life balance might not (yet) be on your radar; but reducing the hours you work at home may well be a starting point. From January 15th, we can measure and track this for you on f2tPRO. Let us keep track of how many hours you've worked this week; you'll have access to your average working-week; and see how you compare with teachers nationally and around the world.

New year resolutions rarely have a get-out clause. So do it differently in 2018 and take a punt on us and Anding's 'Reset' approach. Download f2t to alert you to those small positive changes you can make to your work-life balance; working at your own pace towards doable and measurable targets guided by your own family and personal circumstances.

I get work-life balance. I know what's at stake and how crucial it is to get it right. I promise you'll see yours improving on your iPhone, Android device or desktop; that you'll feel different; that you (and your family) will notice the change; and that - in time - you'll be chuffed that you made it to the end of some ex-teacher's blog post that used way too many hyphens and - probably - went on for longer than it should.

Welcome to fit2teach. Your reset starts here.