How to take back control in your life
Are you overwhelmed?
All of the above? So many school counselors would describe themselves as burned out not fired up. Days are characterized by TOO MUCH.
There is too much to do at school. Kids are more needy than ever. Teachers are on their last nerve. And Administration wants you to take on one more responsibility when you are already doing lunch duty and testing coordinator! Just answering emails is a never-ending task. And as counselors we are trying to be the glue that supports and holds it all together.
There is too much to do at home. The evening is spent catching up on numerous family responsibilities; chauffeuring children to endless activities, house-keeping tasks, and helping with homework.
Oh, yes and then there is connecting with your own family. Do you feel that they always get the leftovers when they should be the top priority?
What’s the antidote to burnout? Here are seven tips to keep your life from spinning out of control
- Create a master schedule for your upcoming week and set your priorities. Be realistic and reasonable. Stack similar tasks on the same days whenever possible. Control your schedule, don’t let it control you.
- For any task that you plan, first ask yourself:
- Is this necessary? If the answer is no, then eliminate it! We all have too many things we are doing mindlessly that aren’t even useful or necessary. Are there things that you are still doing just because the previous counselor did them… but it’s no longer meaningful?
- Can this be automated? Set up systems whenever possible. Do you have several emails all asking the same question? Create a standard reply that you can use over and over. Do you have a handout that you give out every year? Create a template and just fill in the blanks next year.
- Can this be delegated? As the school counselor, I know that you are the one who often has everything delegated to you, right? Need someone else for lunch or car duty? Of course you can fit that in… Whenever possible, identify the cost of taking on too many tasks that don’t fall in your area of expertise. Will it mean you can’t do your lunch groups? Will you have to cancel check-ins with troubled students? Whenever possible educate others on the need to save your energy and time for what you do best (your genius work) and what no one else can.
- Create a morning routine that sets you up for a successful day. Get up early enough to spend some quiet time in reflection and setting your priorities for the day. DO NOT begin the day by checking email, Facebook or any other social media forum. Create and work your own agenda not someone else’s.
- Say yes sparingly and no frequently. There are endless opportunities and possibilities in everyday life. If you say yes to all of them, you will soon be over-committed, over-whelmed and over-worked. Know your main purpose and mission so that you only say yes to those things that fulfill that purpose. Don’t let someone else or your own conscience guilt you into saying yes when you need and want to say no.
- Create healthy rituals and routines that are a habit not a choice. Schedule your exercise times and down times just like you would schedule an appointment with an important client. (Which, by the way YOU ARE your most important client). Plan ahead for healthy eating options so you don’t default to drive-through-fast-food. Remember to practice what you preach and be a role model to children and teachers for self-care.
- Practice gratitude. Staying in touch with what you are grateful for on a daily basis will decrease your burnout and increase your joy. Guaranteed.
- Give yourself a break. Most counselors are incredibly hard on themselves and hold themselves to an impossibly high standard. The benefit of this is that you accomplish more and what you do is of higher quality. Make sure that you know when to turn it off and just relax. Practice saying: Now it’s time to stop working so that I can renew and refresh myself. Then do it!!