As teachers & business owners avoiding overwhelm can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal. We want to create the best experience for our students & their families. But, there are times when that backfires. Especially during times of change. Instead of fun, our days are filled with a series of tasks that “have” to get done. Our minds are filled with judgement or worry that we aren’t living up to what others are offering in their studios.
Moving from overwhelm to fun
My husband has often pointed out that giving less than my all just isn’t in my DNA. Even the idea of doing something “good enough”, especially if it’s for someone else, can be enough to trigger stress. But, is this healthy? On the one hand, it’s great for quality control & personal improvement. On the other hand, this desire to give my all can quickly snowball into overwhelm. And, that’s not great for anyone.
A perfect example of this is when I moved my studio online. This wasn’t a slow, careful process. This was a “we can’t be in person, so we are moving online right now” situation. (So many teachers were in this situation.)
I was so overwhelmed when I first taught online. There were so many things competing for my attention & energy!
- Learning the tech
- Helping students & their families transition to online learning
- Figuring out systems for sharing resources & music
And, all this had to happen while keeping things fun & light for students. I was exhausted!
Adding the fun back in
Avoiding overwhelm in those early days wasn’t easy. And, it wasn’t always possible as I learnt, experimented, failed & experimented some more.
“Mistakes & failures are guaranteed, but it is how we choose to educate ourselves after we stumble that molds who we become.”
~ Bella Forrest
This isn’t to say that mistakes or failures have to be a negative thing. If they are part of the learning process, make it fun!
Now I know how to combine the best parts of in-person teaching with online tools so I can maximize lesson time & have fun at the same time!
While the process wasn’t always easy, there were plenty of laughs along the way!
Tips for avoiding overwhelm
Wouldn’t it be great to be excited about work each day? Whether you teach in-person or online, you deserve to enjoy the work you do (at least most of the time). You can’t always control the circumstances around you. However, there are ways to add fun back into your teaching regardless of what is happening around you.
1. Take things one step at a time.
When I first moved online, it often felt like I was a duck on the water. On the surface, it looked like I had everything all figured out. But under the surface, I was paddling my little palmates (webbed 3-toed feet) for all I was worth! And, occasionally I looked like a panicked duck that got startled by … well, no one knows for sure.
It can be easy to get caught up in all the steps necessary to reach a goal or make a transition to a new way of doing things. Avoiding overwhelm requires a different approach.
Take things one step at a time. Don’t worry about the other million & one other things that need to happen. Just focus on making this one step as fun & easy as possible.
For a planner like me, this is not easy. I thrive on to-do lists & spreadsheets that breakdown all my projects. Especially when I get to check them off. Staying focused on the task at hand is much easier said than done. But, it does improve productivity & help you avoid overwhelm better than anything else.
By taking things one step at a time, your palmates (to go back to our duck analogy) can keep you moving forward while you look calm on the surface. All without the panicked flapping to signal things are not alright.
2. Add one thing at a time
Yes, it would be fantastic to test out several streaming platforms for the best setup, add multiple camera angles, include digital games for online lessons & host a virtual recital in your studio. But, not all at once.
Look at what will bring you (or your students) the most benefit right now. Focus on that ONE thing.
If you are exhausted by the end of the day, look at why. Straining to hear students? Focus on improving audio. When students consistently say they can’t see what you are showing, focus on improving how you demonstrate & the tools you use to show this.
If you are worried about losing students, look at what is triggering that fear. If you see your students losing interest in lessons, purchase digital games (like escape rooms) to start adding fun back into lessons. When you are ready, learn to create your own. If parents are not seeing the value of lessons, give them a chance to brag with a recital (either in-person or virtual) or other studio activities.
This approach helps you make the most impact with the least amount of effort. And, wouldn’t we all like things to feel a little more effortless? Yes!
3. Do what works best for YOU
The internet is full of amazing ideas. It is also full of amazing ideas that no one person can possibly hope to implement in their lifetime. (Please don’t take that as a challenge.)
As much as I love researching new ideas, I’ve learnt the value of “doing”. Even if I don’t have everything figured out quite yet. And since I’m all about avoiding overwhelm, I do my best to limit the number of projects I give myself. As my twins get older, I’ve been able to comfortably take on more projects. When they were very little, that wouldn’t have been the case.
You have your own level of preferred busy-ness, approach to handling things, & stage of life. What worked best for you a few years ago may not work now. Think about what makes your studio unique. It’s your personality, approach & general awesomeness that brings your studio to life.
It’s all about figuring out what works best for you & what is going on in your life right now.
Rather than comparing yourself to other studios or other teachers, focus on the things that are important to you.
Taking the overwhelm out of lessons
If you would like more ideas & support in creating online music lessons that are fun for students & easy for you …
Enroll in my 6-week “Level Up Your Online Teaching” course!
This course is the best of both worlds with on-demand videos to watch on your schedule AND weekly group calls to get your questions answered.
Check “Level Up Your Online Teaching” for specific start dates.