Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baby Stepping

I am an all or nothing person. It's sad, but true. My Sunday school class has been working through a book and I can't finish it because I can't get started again. There are only a few chapters in this book. I read the first one and it seemed to go forever. Because of that, because I felt trapped by the book in a long and rambly chapter, I haven't been able to get myself to start the next chapter.

When it comes to projects for home or school. It's all or nothing again. If I spend my prep working on lesson plans, then I want to get a whole month or a whole quarter done at one time. When I get interrupted, it frustrates me. I stay late after school because I want to get it ALL done. I haven't done any crafting at home lately because I feel like I'll use up all my free times just pulling materials out and putting them away. Why bother?

Recently I have been trying something new. I'm trying to break the larger projects into smaller portions. Then, if I finish a smaller portion, I feel like I have accomplished something. I have closure on that part of the larger task. Last week that allowed me to split my preps into time for long term planning and organization and short term tasks like shelving books or prepping new books for the library. I can be happy putting 5 new books in the library every day, but I'll never get any done if I let myself be consumed by having to finish every major project before I can switch to another one.

I saw a tweet the other day that linked to an excellent blog post called "How to Be a Teacher for More than 5 Years Without Killing Yourself or Others." The following portion really caught my attention:

You will never be finished with your work - A teacher’s work is never done. Seriously. You will never be finished. There will always be something else you could be doing. Every time you cross off one thing from your to-do list, two more things will be added. Like a sink of dirty dishes, it really can wait until tomorrow.
Even thought I am not a classroom teacher, this is still true for me. So I have to look at my to do list differently than I have been. It doesn't come naturally, so I really have to work at it. I keep reminding myself to just break it into manageable steps - even "baby steps." If I can get ONE step of a process done, I have to choose to be content with that. The all-or-nothing thinking stresses me out too much and impacts my ability to be content and manage stress.

How do you work best? Large projects or smaller steps?

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