I’m not doing any more work tonight

I’m the e-Learning Contact for our board, which means I’m responsible to teachers and students who are using digital tools for learning. I provide access to the virtual Learning Environment, I ensure people have their account credentials, I copy content into and between courses, I connect our classes with students from outside our board,…. It’s a pretty long list.

We don’t have a ridiculous number of students (about 10000 from K-12, or about 4500 from 9-12), so my work is different from that of eLCs in very large boards. I spent today, the first day of semester two, getting e-Learning students and Blended Learning teachers into their virtual classrooms. As these things go, it was a fairly smooth day. Between last night and this afternoon I enrolled about 900 students into new courses, emailed all of the e-Learning students and their parents/guardians/guidance counselors, and copied content for a bunch of Blended Learning classes. Objectively, it was a very successful day.

And I feel guilty.

Not because I let things slide; I didn’t. Not because I let people down; for the most part I came through on my promises.

No, I feel guilty because there are still unread and un-dealt-with emails in my inbox. There are still items on my to-do list, things that I could finish that would enable other people to move forwards. But I’m writing this blog post instead, taking 20 minutes or so for myself, and I feel guilty for doing it.

A quick peek in that other tab, the one I’m avoiding at the moment, shows 112 unread messages. About half of those are from today, and another quarter are from the weekend. That’s not a reasonable number to try to get through in a single evening. I know that. I still feel a kind of pressure to get at least some of it done.

I had this problem last year. I spent most of the school year working double time, burning up evenings and weekends with “essential” and “critical” items. I promised that I wouldn’t fall into that same pattern, that same trap, this year.

And so far it’s been pretty good, and I’ve kept the “after hours” work to a manageable level. Keeping it that way has come from making a conscious, daily decision to not let work take over my life.

I believe in the value of what I do, that the work is good work, and that it’s worth doing. But it’s not worth doing whatever the cost to me and my family, so tonight I’m leaving the rest of those messages unread. I’m sure they’ll still be there tomorrow, and I’m sure that everyone will understand if it waits a little while longer.

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