Five Ways To Avoid Being Overworked, From Yahoo’s Penelope Trunk

tn_overworked2.jpgI’m becoming a fan of the career advice of Yahoo’s Penelope Trunk. Her advice seems to draw a great deal of angry criticism as comments, which may just be par for the course when lots of people read it and have the opportunity to post comments. Or it may be because her advice often challenges commonly held beliefs.

So how can you avoid being overworked? According to Penelope:

1. Force your boss to prioritize by explaining that you can’t do all that. Unique TEFL challenge: guess who has the advantage in getting inexperienced people to sign contracts committing themselves to a certain number of hours a week. Partial solution: get informed by learning about norms and getting a TEFL certificate before signing a contract. When you’re more aware of what goes into planning a lesson, 30 contact hours a week may not seem like such great deal after all.

2. If your boss won’t prioritize, do it yourself. Basically – cut corners because you are in a no-win situation anyway. Somewhat unique TEFL challenge: whereas in a typical work situation, you may not deal directly with those affected by your work, in TEFL, your students are the ones most impacted by this. And you deal with those students regularly, and probably feel an obligation to them, so cutting corners is easier said than done. Partial solution: read number 3.

3. Get comfortable with ignoring some tasks: Recycle activities, or adapt low prep ones to different purposes, instead of always pressing yourself to come up with something new.

4. Stop complaining before it ruins your life.
My thought is: don’t just silence yourself, but try to do something constructive to alter some part of the situation. If there really is nothing to do, then yes, just try not to think about it.

5. Take responsibility for being overworked, then change it. I agree that this is a useful way of dealing with it all. Of course in the context of TEFL, this does start to sound a little bit like the controversial You Are The Solution. The market is such that without going for a serious subsequent qualification like an MA or DELTA, there may not be a lot of options to change that. Or, if you want to work less, the result may be much less money. As Cairogal pointed out in a comment on You Are The Solution – to some extent at least – you do need to accept that this is part of the field, even while holding onto the belief that employers should not mislead people.

I’ll hold off on giving my own verdict on these tips…do you think they are useful in TEFL? Read the full original post.