Weekend working has been on my mind recently. Possibly because I have been doing it myself in order to keep up with the general demands of my role at the moment, but also following a conversation I had in the School Yard with one of our trainee teachers.
It was a Friday and I made the rookie error of asking him what he was doing at the weekend. He looked at me as if trying to gauge the answer I really wanted to hear and then replied “umm…working”. I had no choice but to continue with the thread.
“Not all weekend I hope?”
Thankfully he was willing to engage in this conversation and explained to me that he had found that if he set aside Sunday to plan some of his lessons and keep up with the requirements of his training, he found the school week a lot more enjoyable in that he could engage with students more readily if “falling behind” wasn’t on his mind.
I completely understood.
Of course, no one likes to work on the days that should be rest days but we all do it, don’t we? Sometimes we want to catch up. Sometimes we want to get ahead. Sometimes we are engrossed in something that we can’t bear to put down until it is complete. Sometimes we’ve made unrealistic promises that we need to fulfil. In my experience it isn’t all bad. Starting Monday morning knowing that you are on top of things is a very nice place to be.
For the most part (I accept not always), if I work at the weekend it is because I want to. The problem comes when you regularly find yourself working at weekends because it is the only way to get the job done. This indicates that there is too much work for one person and you need more support.
There are no easy answers
I’m not going to pretend that there are easy answers because it all depends on your context and culture. Talking it through with your line manager is always going to be a good place to start. Explain what you have been doing and why you feel you need to. Think honestly together about whether;
- you could use some more training in aspects of your job
- there are too many distractions during the day and how you can reduce them
- there are any aspects of your job which you can delegate (and to whom)
- you need to think about more hours or another pair of hands for your team (even if only in the short term)
- you are worrying unnecessarily about keeping up
I know that there are some things that I like to do that I could reasonably pass on to someone else and also that there are times when I get very little done during the day because I allow myself to be distracted by nonsense. I’m also aware that occasionally, if I took the time to undergo some training, it wouldn’t take me so long to complete a task as I try to work it out myself!
Being honest with yourself about this is hard, but so is working every weekend to keep up and burning out because you never take time to relax!
Over the next few months, I shall be monitoring my own levels of weekend working in an effort to minimise it and, be in no doubt, I shall also be keeping my beady eye on that trainee teacher!
What about you? Working weekends?