Monday, January 25, 2010

When Life Doesn't Work: Check Simple Needs First

I just spent five hours to completing a job that should have taken two. I was slow, inefficient, and clumsy. I fumbled. I dropped things. I felt thick in the head.

There is no reason for it, none that I can see. I shouldn't have been particularly tired or stressed or distracted. I was just ineffective. Still, I plodded along, because I wanted to finish the job. In hindsight, I am not sure this was my best option.

Do you ever feel this way?

At the point where you realize that you are not working effectively, what do you do? The reason I'm asking is this: when you see that the work is eating up too much time and energy, you can make a decision. This is true in the school room, too.

That will be our focus for the next few days -- how to cope when life isn't going as well as we think it should. Because much of the time, we encounter resistance to our goals for the day. How we respond to this is important for our success in the long run.

A big part of responding wiselyis to ask questions that help you assess why.

The first question to ask is: Are there physical needs that are keeping you from doing your best work? Would it make more sense to address those now and then get back to work?

Maybe you need to get something to eat. Maybe a short nap would help. Maybe a strong cup of coffee would charge your battery. Or perhaps you'd be more focused at another time of day. If you aren't quite well, you could be resisting the idea of taking some over-the-counter meds when you really should stop and take care of yourself. When I have a cold or a headache, it's amazing what Tylenol and Dimetapp can do for my energy level.

Maybe your children need something to eat. A recess break might make everyone fresh again. A nap or quiet time could give the day a new start. Perhaps one of your students has a headache or is feeling a bit under the weather. It was amazes me that I had to ask for this information.

But my kids often didn't tell me. What's more, they weren't always aware of what the problem was.

But here's the thing: many times what appeared to be an attitude problem or a comprehension problem was just a physical problem. Not only that, it was a physical problem that could be solved.

Can you think of a time in your own life when things weren't working well because of an underlying physical problem? How did you solve it?


  1. This is an area in which I continue to grow. Just this weekend while working and playing "catch-up" with school papers and book-keeping, I recognized my saturation point, was able to walk away from it all and go do something for myself that was relaxing. Then, afterward, I enjoyed a shared walk with my daughter. It took us about an hour and an half from start to finish (with an ice-cream cone for my girl at the end). What fun. I never did make it back to the desk that day, due to family and needs and varied interests, but it was a forward step in recognizing my physical need to take a break and respond to it appropriately. Perhaps a small thing for many readers here, but for me it is worth a mini-celebration!!! :)

  2. You make a good point. Sometimes it's more effective in the long run to stop and see if there's something that needs to be done to help us work more efficiently and effectively. And the same goes for our children. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Lack of / broken sleep is my number 1 energy drainer. I can totally relate.


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