Teachers have strong commitments to their work. Most of them feel passionately about teaching, and see it as a “calling.” The emotions that teachers undergo include love for (most) students, hate for the paperwork, and the feeling of excitement when they see a student finally understand a concept. Then there’s the dread of filling out report cards, the feeling of burn-out in December, and the nervous feeling associated with the first day of school every year.

The intensity of the teaching profession and the chronic stress levels involved can lead to burnout. It usually means the inability to function fully in one’s job due to the prolonged stress related to these jobs. Stress and burnout are linked closely to an individual’s state of mind. Burnout is three-dimensional and includes feelings of emotional exhaustion or tiredness; teacher “depersonalization,” in which they develop a negative and distrustful attitude towards their students, parents, and their colleagues; and a reduced sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.

It also brings about other negative effects, such as increased absenteeism, decline in classroom performance, and poor interpersonal relationships with colleagues and students. Burned-out teachers are usually less sympathetic toward the problems of students, and are less committed to their jobs. They develop lower tolerance for classroom disruptions, are less prepared for class, and are generally less productive. As a result, burned-out teachers can have a negative influence on the morale of new teachers.

Here are some tips for teachers who want to be productive, be impactful—yet keep their health, alertness, and sanity.

  1. Make a list of all the tasks that you have been postponing for some time. Try and identify whether these tasks have something in common. Doing this will help you determine the specific kind of jobs that you tend to postpone. Is it that you postpone tasks that have no deadline or those that involve doing something that you are uncomfortable with?
  2. Keep a list of all the tasks that you need to do and prioritize them. Tell yourself that jumping the priority list is not allowed.
  3. Finally, reward yourself with something that you like when you complete each task. Take a break and sip a hot refreshing cappuccino before you start the next thing, take a walk, or simply pause to look out the window; rewards, both big and small, can help you stay motivated and focused.