Busy workday, multiple tasks on top of each other, limited hours in a day, sound familiar? Often we leave work or the workspace at home feeling like we didn’t accomplish anything, and so many things were left unfinished. These thoughts are the ones that add to our stress and the sense of exhaustion. These thoughts are also the ones that keep us awake at night or make it difficult to unwind after a long day. In the long run, this kind of situation can lead to exhaustion, and it takes a long time to recover from work-related stress and fatigue.
At the end of each workday, sit down at your desk and write down all the things that you were able to finish, whether it was a pile of exams, a plan for the next week, a report that needed to be done, teaching your lessons. Then on a different piece of paper, list the left things still open that you did not have time to finish YET. After you have listed the most important things left still open (do not try to solve unsolvable issues like the global education crises or world peace), look into your calendar and allocate time for the unfinished business.
For example, tomorrow I have a half an hour break at noon; I can send the emails to these parents then, in the afternoon, I have one hour; I think I can grade these assignments. If the task is something that you cannot do by yourself, write who you will contact. If you cannot find time, write NOT YET, next to the task.
You are sending your brain a message; I have not completed everything YET. So you focus on your work tasks with the growth mindset – everything does not have to be ready immediately. After a few weeks of doing this, your mind starts to relax; it knows that open tasks are waiting but that you have a plan.
It also helps to allocate time in your calendar to do things; otherwise, you easily get distracted if someone suggests a new task or a meeting. It is easier to say: “No, I cannot do that tomorrow, because my day is already full” if the request is something that can be postponed.
Making a list takes a bit of time in the beginning, but in a few weeks, it only takes a couple of minutes, and then you can leave your workspace and feel a bit more relaxed in the evening, concentrating on issues that give your energy for the next days to come.