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?