I don’t know about you, but I have noticed myself with a head space that seems fogged over and cloudy from time to time. Stopping mid-sentence, trying to find the next word to complete my sentence, and just feeling like I can’t keep my thoughts straight can be a little scary or frustrating. And, yes, I have actually turned to a student to ask them what I was saying. LOL. My students are 7! If you can relate to any of the events that I just shared, then likely, you have experienced what I’m calling “teacher brain fog”. I am going to share a few tips on how to avoid teacher brain fog.
Brain Dump. Brains are not meant to just hold on to information. It is meant primarily for processing information. However, as you know, as things become busier and busier for us, we use it to store To Dos and Must Dos. How many times have you been upset with yourself because you forgot something that was sooo simple to remember? This is me all of the time. Brain, you should be able to remember THAT! Nope! Your beautiful brain is on to the next thing. It is processing information and trying to keep you safe. So, love on your brain and be kind to it. Brain dumping and releasing all the thoughts can definitely help you avoid teacher brain fog.
Whatever you want to recall for later, or do later, write it down.
Assign a Time
Assign a time. Create a time allotment for each item on your list. This tip just might be the game changer that you have been looking for! I need to use this method with consistency. For some reason, I keep subscribing to the “I have all day to do this” squad. WHAT??! Do I now? Well, this is exactly why it takes me a senseless amount of time to do the smallest task. My self talk is askew! Ummm, fix this immediately, ma’am. Right? LOL
There is something to be said for setting a mental timer and being task-focused. This adjustment tells your brain the time constraints that you need it to attend to. Ask yourself: How long should it take me to do this? Be honest. Be realistic. Remember, we are trying to create wins and to work towards achieving our goals. Teacher brain fog is not something that we just have to accept as the norm or get used to.
I recall hearing somewhere that one of the greatest detriments (and I am paraphrasing here) that you can do to yourself is to lie to yourself. When you say you are going to do something for you and you don’t stick to it, you have just taught yourself that you are untrustworthy and don’t keep your word.
Woooo! Read that again! That kicked you in the gut a little, right? I doubled over the first time I heard it. How many times have we let ourselves down by not doing what we told ourselves that we would do? Full transparency? For me, way too many times!
So, let’s assign a time for each task and stick to it. Deal?
Be specific. What will you accomplish during this scheduled time? This is also a key step to getting rid of/clearing your teacher brain fog. What will you DO in that 20 minute designated time. For example, write an email to my list- 30 minutes. Or, create index cards with student passwords- 20 minutes.
This will also be so helpful with cueing you to exactly what you have planned to do. Let’s eliminate sitting down at our desks and organizing the pens because we’re unfocused and can’t think of what to do. No, no. Cease and desist from that behavior, my sweet friend. Plus, knowing that you only have ____ amount of time to get job X done will likely light a fire under you.
Otherwise, your brain thinks that you have as much time as needed to do it. It will fill the time for you. I hadn’t ever thought of that before, but it definitely explains why those 1 hour to-do’s turn into 1 day chores. I have this really bad habit (so I just discovered) of telling myself that “I have all day” to do something.
Prioritize Your List to Gain Mental Clarity
Prioritize your list. Now, you are ready to evaluate your list. Anything that can be deleted? If so, be absolutely certain that doing so won’t hinder you in any way. Are you deleting that item because it is a task that you hate doing? Is it something that takes a long time to do? If it’s a necessary task that can help elevate you, don’t delete it. Do what author, Brian Tracy says and eat that frog!
Prioritize your tasks by arranging them in order of importance. You can jot down a quick number beside each item to show the order of significance.
Which of the tasks or to do’s that you listed should come first? Will job A lead to the success of job B? Will accomplishing this task lead to an open window or the momentum that you need to keep going? Yes! Now, you’ve got it! This is going to help us rock our day, week, month, year, and personal, professional, and/or business goals.
Teach Your Brain to Time Block
Teach your brain to time block. Once we do this we can expect a tangible and achievable goal. It might be great to begin with a small win. We know that motivation via a sense of success keeps us moving forward, and that is exactly what we want to do. Keep moving forward by doing one thing that will move that needle in the right direction. All aboard the Success Train! Toot! Toot!
So, what is time blocking? Time blocking is a practice that helps you manage time in a way that gives attention to a specific task or goal in a specified amount of time. “Task batching”, a term that has become more popular in my Teacherpreneur circle recently, is also a form of time blocking. Each scheduled time block is dedicated to one specific task(s) and only that task. The goal is to increase productivity and to, hopefully, decrease overwhelm and a sense of being stuck. To learn more about this helpful time management tool, read this article on the website Todoist.
Doing this allows you to function at a higher level in a set amount of time. I am down for this! What about you? Do you think that this might be a helpful practice for you? Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
Grab Your Calendar
Grab your calendar (and favorite pens). If you love adding stickers and washi tape, grab that, too!
Sidebar: Are you Team Gel Pens or Team Flairs (Flair Pens)?
I am Team Gels all day! Sorry, Team Flairs. I’ve tried to use Flair Pens a few times, but I struggle to write with them. I do love the level of pigmentation that you can get from flair pens and they are prettier.
Again, you want to be firm on the time that you schedule so that it becomes a habit and you can become productive and form positive habits. Don’t forget, we are also teaching our brains the act of time blocking. We want to gain momentum and become consistent so that avoiding teacher brain fog because a way of more healthy living.
Likely, you probably don’t want to add in too much extra time on a consistent basis. Remember, our ultimate plan is to accomplish these tasks in the time that we have assigned for each. So, use that “just in case I need more time” time wisely.
Add in Time to Plan to Help Avoid Teacher Brain Fog
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash
Now, you are going to add your activities/to-do’s with the time allotments to your calendar. Remember, we are all about self-love and being kind and gentle with ourselves. So, add in a little extra time for those tasks that you think might end up needing time for overflow. Like when you lesson plan and you think, “Hmm… this might be more than what we can do in one day”. You don’t want to do that for every task, just those “ultimate” tasks that you may need flexibility for.
Add in time to plan. While you are sitting with your calendar, schedule a time for you to plan your week. Okay, time for complete transparency. I am so writing this post for myself just as much as I am for you. Planning out my week is something that I just have not mastered. Honestly, the more items I don’t follow through on ________, the more I have to question myself. Do you really want to be successful, Tania? Is growing your business still a goal? Are you really working to obtain financial wholeness (thank you, Tiffany, The Budgetnista, for that term) or financial flow? I genuinely do. So, I need to take this steps, too and turn them into habits. What about you?
Okay, back to adding in time to plan….
Join An Accountability Group or Teacher Pod
I was joining a Clubhouse room on some Sunday mornings that was all about planning out your week for social media. It was actually really helpful. I haven’t been able to participate with that room much because it’s schedule at the same time that my Church goes live for Sunday Worship. I had to choose and you know that I chose the Lord. Getting an accountability partner just might be the extra support and nudge that you need. Ask a friend, Teacher Bestie, or reach out via a SOS in one of your Facebook groups. One thing I am sure of, you are not alone in feeling teacher brain fog, so grab a friend and help them avoid that teacher brain fog, too!
Of course, you don’t need an entire Clubhouse room or an accountability partner to plan. You can set a timer, find a quiet space, sit with all of your planning tools (calendar, prioritized list, favorite pens, etc…) and do this yourself. But, I am strongly urging you to sit down with your calendar at the beginning of each week to plan out your week. Decide if the first of the week will be Sunday or Monday for you, set your intentions for your time, and go for it!
Take Action and Follow Through
Take action and follow through. I have to giggle as I type this. I
am was the person that wrote items down in my planner and then placed the planner (closed) on the desk or in my teacher bag; never to be seen again until the next time that I needed to plan. So, I will set my intentions and shift my mindset to thinking of this planning time as a way to grow myself and my business.
Remember to return to your calendar and review your list. Did you accomplish everything that you set out to achieve? If not, analyze the areas in the process that need to be strengthened. If you did, also analyze what went well. Then, do more of that! And most definitely, take time to celebrate every win and every effort!!
Now, you are well on your way to gaining mental clarity and avoiding teacher brain fog!
Let me know if these tips help you in the comments.