Teaching Profession Opinion

Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break

By Starr Sackstein — April 19, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

If you’re like me, there’s always something to do and never enough time to get it all done. So the idea of taking a break is almost foreign.

Being both a parent and an educator fills my life with an abundance of important tasks and learning that certainly keep me busy and that doesn’t include my professional life outside of the classroom.

Recently I’ve noticed that I have to give myself permission to let things sit. Reminding myself that the world won’t end if an email doesn’t get answered immediately or a blog post doesn’t get written.

Taking care of feeling good and being present for my son in his endeavors must take priority.

For those of you out there who are over-scheduled and over-worked, here are some tips to give yourself permission to take a break; you deserve it:

  • Set time aside where you can do something you enjoy that is not related to any of the tasks that have to be done. In this time, really be present and try not to think about the other things that feel so urgent.
  • Consider taking your work email off your smart phone so you don’t feel compelled to check email in your down time. The emails can and will wait, especially if it’s a weekend, nothing is changing until Monday (I feel a little hypocritical on this one as I check my email incessantly. Always worried that a student needs something and hoping to put out any fires immediately).
  • Make your personal life as important as your work life. There needs to be a balance. This time of year is baseball season and my son is in two leagues. On the weeks I have him, I make it a point to be present at practices and games to show my support. After all, for how much longer is he really going to want me hanging out at his events. The days before he is a teenager are numbered and I don’t want to miss any opportunities to be a part of his life.
  • Plan your time well, but be okay with flexibility. Stuff comes up that will require your attention, try to prioritize flexibly and not feel guilty when the plans need to change. Guilt can be a very draining emotion.
  • If you need to spend the day on the couch watching reality television, there is no shame in it. Everyone needs a day once in a while to just shut off. I find that once I allow myself this space, I feel more focused when I get back to work.

When I’m in a space where a break is truly needed, forcing myself to get it done doesn’t inspire the best version of what I can accomplish which is counterproductive. If I’m going to have to go back and do it again anyway, why not just take the break and do my best work once I feel more focused?

Productivity can be fickle, but what we put out into the universe if a reflection of ourselves. In order to be our best, we must take care of ourselves in a meaningful way.

How do you create space for down time? Please share your tips

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read