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Maintaining Balance as a School Administrator

The following tips from ACSA’s Member Assistance and Legal Support Team originally appeared in the Aug. 8, 2022 edition of EdCal.

We can all agree that there has never been a more difficult time to be a school or district administrator.
Administrators often feel that there is not enough of themselves to go around. In today’s hectic world, including the enormous task of dealing with the coronavirus, you are trying to fill multiple roles and are often pulled in a variety of directions.

As advocates on the ACSA Member Assistance and Legal Support Team, we talk to administrators around the state every day. Under the direction of Margarita Cuizon-Armelino, advocates John Almond, Sharon Dezutti, Joe Jones, Janet Morey, Bill Tschida, Gary Rutherford and Lloyd Wamhof have discussed the feedback we receive from administrators in every job-alike group in ACSA.

The demands of the job are such that there never seems to be enough time in the day to address all the issues that need your attention. So many of you have told us about having to work additional days during the past two years, including giving up your vacations, just to get the job done. As a result, stress and worry can become a way of life, and the end result can be that one’s life becomes totally out of balance.

Your ability to maintain balance in your life will be determined by your leadership style and your ability to live your priorities. The balance between work and your personal life is not equal or constant. It certainly does not mean scheduling an equal number of hours for work and play. We would offer, however, that it does mean that there needs to be a balance between achievement and enjoyment. In order to achieve balance in your life, we ask you to ponder the following:

Know who you are — recognize your limitations. We simply cannot be all things to all people.
Know what you value. We all normally say the right things, but, oftentimes, actions speak louder than words.
Identify your personal priorities and adapt to changes in your life.

The logical question at this point is: How do you know if you are living your priorities? To answer this question, ask yourself if people would describe you in the following ways:

  • Energetic and enthusiastic
  • Focused
  • Optimistic
  • Creative and innovative
  • Productive
  • Motivated

If these characteristics describe you, then you are most likely living a balanced life. On the other hand, if you are typically fatigued, resentful, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, you definitely need to spend some time re-thinking your priorities and the things that you value. Maintaining balance in your life requires a conscious effort. How many times have you heard expressions like, “I simply don’t have time” or “I’m absolutely swamped.” As public school administrators, we know that we are going to have tough days, but the trick is to not let every day be one of those days.

As public school administrators, we know that we are going to have tough days, but the trick is to not let every day be one of those days.

As we all know, it is easy for one’s life to become totally consumed by work. Here are some helpful tips to help you maintain a sense of balance.

Find time for exercise on a regular basis. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be an athlete to exercise. Even 20 minutes four times a week is better than doing nothing.

If you don’t have a mentor, find one. A mentor can provide guidance when you need it most. Look for someone who shares your interests or experiences and, most importantly, someone you respect.

Maintain a sense of humor. There is no doubt that humor can help you through stressful times and can even help build better relationships with your colleagues.

Don’t allow your talents to become past interests. Pursuing interests unrelated to your career will expand your perspective, give you added enthusiasm and provide a mental break.

Stay connected to friends and family members. Make time for relationships that you care about. Also, be sure to cultivate some friendships outside of education. These friendships will broaden your perspective on life.

Learn how to set limits. We know that this is easier said than done, but you have to be willing to share the load. Delegate tasks whenever possible to whatever support staff you have.

Write down the factors that went into your decision to become an educator. When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, go back and look at all the reasons you have for wanting to be an educator.

Eat frequently and choose healthy snacks. We must say that some of us have personally failed miserably in this area, but we all know the benefits associated with proper nutrition.

Remember, maintaining balance in your life requires a conscious effort; it doesn’t just happen. By living a balanced life, however, you will undoubtedly be happier, more productive and less likely to experience poor health due to stress. Many of us have had cause to visit a cemetery over the years, and none of us have ever seen one headstone that read: “Sure Wish That I Had Spent More Time at the Office.” Think about it

Throughout the course of the school year, if you would like to speak to an Advocate to discuss an issue or concern, please go to the ACSA website (acsa.org/legalsupport) and complete the online form. You will be contacted by one of the Advocates who serve on the Member Assistance and Legal Support Team. Have a productive and balanced 2022-23 school year!

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