We all suffer from decision fatigue to varying degrees.
They say teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than neurosurgeons. It makes sense, then, that all of these decisions can take their toll.
Some decisions can’t be avoided. We have to make them, full stop. But some can be automated, freeing us up to be less overwhelmed and therefore more patient with our students. And some can actually be eliminated altogether.
Here are a few tips:
1. Pick your outfit the night before. I actually take this one to the extreme and plan my outfits for the whole week the weekend before. I use an app that tracks what I wear so I also know what in my wardrobe is taking up too much valuable space and needs to be culled.
2. Eat the same thing. If you streamline your decision-making around food options and meals, you’ll save significant brain power. Write a shopping list for grocery shopping and use your GPS to navigate the way there.
3. Stick to your class timetable. Your students will benefit from predictability and stability, and it means that much of the day plans itself. You’ll never find yourself stuck in a moment of “what now?” because you’ve already mapped out the daily schedule.
4. Avoid analysis paralysis. I learnt this lesson early on. My Dad would take me out on a driving lesson, steer me towards a T intersection, and tell me to go when I thought it was best. If I dawdled too long he would advise me- “just go”. I understood the insinuation- the worst decision was not making a decision. You just make a choice, then you deal with the ramifications of the choice. But not making a decision was not an option.
5. Trust your instincts. There’s a lot to be said for going with your gut. Often your first idea is your best one. If you can’t trust your own instincts, pick someone you respect and ask yourself “what would _____ do?”
6. Follow the 10/10/10 rule. Ask yourself: how will I feel about this 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? And what about 10 years from now? This type of thinking will also help you to realise that a lot of the decisions you think are important are actually rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
7. Make the most important, or toughest, decisions first. Take advantage of your willpower being the strongest and the freshness of your mind first thing in the morning to make those crucial decisions. Eat that frog, as they say.
8. Rest and replenish. Schedule mindfulness breaks. Seek out moments of calm and quiet in your day. Take a walk in nature or enjoy a small snack. Oftentimes, the answer will hit you when you are no longer actively seeking it. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/10/21/how-to-avoid-burnout/
9. Turn off alerts and notifications. Switch off social media and avoid other distractions so you can focus on what really matters.
10. Delegate. If all else fails, consult an expert. Or let someone else make the decision for you.
Give just one of two of these a try and see how much they help you to stay at your sparkly best for longer. Fewer decisions = happier teachers! 😁
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