It's no secret that I love tech. It's also no secret that I am always on the eternal search to find and maintain balance in life. So why not put the two together? Luckily, there are some amazing tech tools that can be utilized to help us to maintain a sense of balance in several ways.
Automation with IFTTT and Zapier
The first category to help make our lives simple is the automation category and heading up that category is IFTTT (if this, then that) and Zapier. Both of these Web 2.0 tools can be used to link Web products so that when we do one thing online, another automatically happens. For example, my lesson plans are all in Evernote so that I can keep them with me and change them on the fly. I have them linked to a Google Calendar as well. Each week, I put a new event in my Google Calendar that is labeled Lesson Plans. Within 15 minutes, there is a new note in my Evernote with my weekly Lesson Plan template filled in and named ready for me to finish up my lesson plan. This process saves me at least 20 minutes each week. I also get reminders each week automatically to do my lesson plans, weekly emails to parents, and weekly blog posts. All of this I set up once and is now done automatically by utilizing one of the two services (IFTTT or Zapier). Not having to remember this stuff on my own relieves a ton of stress and I know that it will get done!!
To Do Apps
There are many To do Apps out there to use. The most important thing is to find one that works with the way your brain functions and, if you decide to use an Automation service, that works with whichever service you use. The app I like to use is call Do It Tomorrow because many of the tasks I do I do on a daily basis. This enables me to do my task for the day and then push it off until tomorrow so that I remember to do it tomorrow. This app syncs with Google Tasks so I just needed to make sure my Automation service synced with Google Tasks (it's a 2 step sync but it works nicely for me).
I am a big proponent of a daily mediation practice. I try to use a guided meditation before bed each night and use one of the many free meditation apps available for ios or android to help relieve stress on a regular basis. Research has found that with regular practice, meditation can help to bring down blood pressure and stress levels which is helpful to anyone with a stressful work/personal life (pretty much anyone in the education field). This also helps us to take a step back and to not take everything that happens in the school day home with us.
I left "my brain" at home today. When I say "my brain", I am referring to my tablet, which I have been using for years to remind me of everything and to get most of my daily tasks done. Not having it with me is almost worse than most people not having their cell phones with them. I feel naked. I feel out-of-sorts. I don't feel like me. I feel out of balanced. If you notice, I also haven't written a blog in weeks. This post is all about what happens when we fall out of balance because, try as we might, it WILL happen.
So you may first be wondering where I have been for the past few weeks if I haven't been in the blogosphere. Well, I moved; physically. Now, that may not seem enough of a significant change in life to constitute a few weeks off from blogging but, for those of you that have recently purchased a house and moved, you probably get it; and for those of you that haven't yet or haven't in a while, you will once I explain. We signed contracts on this house the day before Superintendent Conference Days and the whirlwind from contract to closing was less than 2 months. This was not my first house purchase, but it was definitely my quickest, and being my quickest it was my most stressful. Every day I had another paper to fill out and sign or statement to acquire. All of this while working full time teaching, extra help, making videos of lessons, emailing with students and parents, lesson planning, writing tests, grading tests, and of course, late night parent-teacher conferences. No one in the world understands how much work there is to do when you are a teacher except other teachers. Other people believe that our day ends when we leave the building which couldn't be further from the truth! While all of that was happening, I was still blogging and still plugging away but once we approached closing, the stress took it's toll. Then the move...... closing took a little longer than we thought because the sellers attorney only does closings once a week so we only had 3 days to move 5 snakes, a beaded dragon, 3 cats, a huge salt water fish tank with seahorses, a 2 bedroom apartment busting at the seams, furniture stashed at another location and of course 2 humans. Talk about losing balance!!!! Something just had to give!!! So I got way behind on my grading and on my blogging. I only got (mostly) caught up on my grading this week and today, I am trying to start up my blog again.
I guess the most important aspect about balance is the realization that we all lose it at some point. We just can't beat ourselves up about it. The more that we do, the harder it is to regain. We just have to get back up and start again bit by bit. I am catching up on what I missed but if I just sat around feeling sorry for myself, I wouldn't.
So what about the "brain" that I left at home today? I could have freaked out for the day. And yes, I felt a little off kilter. But I worked through it. I will find a new normal in my new set of conditions in my new home. I will find my balance again. But until I do, I will take each day and each moment one step at a time.