When to Declutter Work Obligations

This is something many of us struggle with professionally.  When do you draw the line and declutter an obligation?  Are you willing to risk it professionally?

John and I are teachers – he is at high school and I am at middle school.  So far this school year, I have missed 9 school days because of professional obligations.  Keep in mind, we have only been in school with students 41 school days.  Those who have taught understand the time obligation required to miss class – substitute teacher plans have to be prepared and then the “cleanup” after a sub has been in your class.

So back to my initial questions:

Am I willing to risk decluttering the obligations?  Sort of – the closer I get to retirement, the easier it has been to eliminate voluntary obligations.  I’m not resume building anymore.  Odds are nothing is going to affect my professional reputation if I “quit” the voluntary stuff.  But what about those obligations we are volunTOLD to do?  This is harder to do when every one on your department (grade level) team is voluntold to do something.

Mine right now is finding ways to make a “meaningful impact” on student achievement.  Without going into details, this is taking HOURS every week without much evidence we are making progress.  It is also affecting the amount of content that gets covered because we are obligated to “try” something new all the time.  This doesn’t occur just in education – many are voluntold and our professional reputation could be on the line.

When do you draw the line to declutter a professional obligation?   Anytime it starts interfering with my health is an obvious answer.  When is that exactly and how do you get rid of a professional obligation that is part of your job description?

Stress has a weird way of acting on our body.   What are the symptoms that make you decide enough is enough?  I’m a union representative for our school.  Nothing major has happened but I’m feeling it’s time to let this go – union rep, district curriculum writer, “impact” department.  Time is starting to feel crunched (guess this is my symptom) and something has to go.  It is a voluntary obligation and I’m sure the other 4 reps at our site can handle things.

Guess the conclusion I have reached after actually “verbalizing” all of the above is we need to take care of ourselves!  If we don’t, it will start affecting our health (physical and psychological), relationships, etc.

I would love to hear your thoughts for these questions.  When do you draw the line and declutter a professional obligation?  When are you willing to risk it?


14 thoughts on “When to Declutter Work Obligations

  1. I can’t tell you how many committees I have joined and then left. Now I have decided never to join one again – unless we had a zombie Apocalypse or some such…🧟‍♀️
    In my case it was always when my health started to suffer or the group was antagonistic. Sometimes they were connected to work and that makes it a little harder to leave but I always had some excuse. Revealing my mental health problems would have crossed another boundary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you are analyZing your sources of stress! VolunTOLD is the perfect word!! As a teacher, all the restrictions, paperwork to just CYA, and all the constant changes in requirements almost drove me nuts! And I sure didn’t have far to go!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A funny thing happened when I started saying no to miscellaneous work “opportunities” – instead of blowing up in my face or tanking my career, it actually earned me more respect. Sadly, I was never able to declutter my calendar of meetings but I did stop participating in committees, task forces, and such. I just told them I couldn’t be effective in the role I was hired for if I was involved in too many extraneous activities. Not sure that will work in a teaching setting but I definitely vote for decluttering as many obligations as you can. Without risk, there’s no reward.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand about the decluttering in your professional life. Recently I realized I’m my own worst enemy. Always offering to do more and taking on more things until finally, you feel (like I do now) that you are in a time crunch and you may not get everything done before a deadline and you feel stress all the time and things aren’t as fun as they use to be. You don’t sleep because you wake up thinking about the things you should be doing.

    I’ve decided that I will change that. I met a lady recently that has 3 rules. Before she takes something on she asks herself; 1. is it fun? 2. Is it simple? 3. Is it balanced? In other words, does it maintain the balance in your life? If it does. You don’t do it.

    I have a few projects that I can’t get rid of but once they are done (as long as I survive lolol) I will follow my new 3 rules.

    I guess you’ve come to a similar conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’m also my own worst enemy. When others don’t step up, I feel the need to do so.

      I love the 3 rules! Some of our professional obligations can’t be looked at that way but sometime we overload ourselves in our private lives and it affects us at work. I hadn’t thought about the sleeping issue but I’ve definitely experienced it lately.

      Add to all this is having to report for Jury Duty tomorrow morning – argh

      Liked by 1 person

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