Staying Focused When You Just Want to Chill

It is incredibly important to take regular breaks.  Running a studio means staying focused on your business is also a must. What to do?

Back in my early years of teaching, one of my bosses pulled me aside one day and said,  “Rosemarie, I don’t want you to be a great teacher.  I want you to just be a good enough teacher.”  Now, this is not normally what you would expect your boss to say regardless of your profession.  Thankfully, she explained, “The challenge for you is not coming up with ideas.  You have lots of ideas!  But, rather than try to implement them all, I want you to choose just ONE & try it out for a while.”  She had realized that in my enthusiasm to become the best teacher possible, I was burning myself out.  This is advice I have done my best to embrace for nearly two decades.

Get outside help

Years ago, I listened to a podcast on 100 Days of Goal Setting with Amy Porterfield & John Lee Dumas.  While it was much more business & sales-focused than I had wanted at the time, it did give me some framework for making shorter goals rather than over sweeping goals for the whole academic year. 

That same year, I listened to another podcast entitled “How Can Teachers Work Just 40 Hours A Week?” by Vicki Davis.  The tagline “Find life balance & get your weekends back” cinched it for me.  While her ideas were based on Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club (which I am not a member of), I loved how actionable it was for teachers.  Especially going into summer.  

What it looked like

It’s all well & good to be inspired, but staying focused is about much more than chasing ideas.  It’s about being intentional with your time & energy.  They’re both precious & limited.  This is especially true during the summer months.

Back in 2016, I created a list of my end-of-summer vision for my home, business, & professional development.  The list was comprised of 13 goals & was focused on setting myself up for a great start in the Fall, including the routines that fell by the wayside the previous year that I wanted to re-incorporate.

At the time, I had also joined TopMusicPro (known as Inner Circle back then).  The 4-week challenges had been a great opportunity for staying focused in short segments.   And, it was a holistic approach to planning: pedagogy (2 goals), technology (1 goal), business (1 goal), & health/life/social (2 goals). While I still use elements of this approach years later, I also participate in Power Hours with others in the group for additional support & accountability.

P.S. The TopMusicPro link is an affiliate link.  This means that I receive a small fee if you choose to join.  At the time of this rewrite, I’ve been a member for years & still highly recommend it!  These types of links make it possible for me to continue to provide free ideas & resources for you.  Now, back to the article!

Be Intentional

My first year for an end-of-summer vision is very different than what it looks like now.  Back then, I thought organizing my projects by week would work out perfectly.  It helped with staying focused.  But with more responsibilities & projects in my businesses, that approach would burn me out quickly.  I know because it happened last summer (AKA the summer of Covid).

You & I both know as teachers & studio owners there are always multiple things on the to-do list & always projects on the back burner.  Do they need to all be there?

In my studio, I’ve become intentional with what makes it onto my to-do list before & during the holidays.  Typically, that to-do list is much bigger before the holiday than during.  And that is for a specific reason.

We ALL need regular downtime.

In June, I focus on projects that make a big impact on my productivity during the year.  Batching my studio newsletters has made the largest impact on how my studio runs.  And, it takes only 2 business days.  Two business days in June saves me nearly double that time if I was to write them during the school year.  And, it’s much less stressful know those are written, edited & scheduled.

What are the projects that make the biggest impact on your productivity after the holidays?

Be Ruthless

Remember how my boss had asked me to be a good enough teacher?  All those ideas seemed great.  But, it was hard staying focused when there were so many projects to juggle.

Be ruthless about what makes it onto your to-do list.  While summer is a great time to get to projects.  It’s also a great time to get perspective.  And that can only happen if you step away from your studio.

This is one of the hardest things to put into action.  And, it’s something that I continually have to be very intentional about.  Being ruthless doesn’t come naturally to me, but it has allowed me to create balance for my life … & creativity in my studio.

Be ruthless about what you say yes to.  Be ruthless about the projects you take on.  And, be ruthless in your pursuit of the studio & life you want.  (Just avoid being ruthless with others.

Staying Focused

What happens when you forget to be intentional or ruthless?  And, yes “when” is a fact of life.  It will happen.

Give yourself grace.  Remind yourself that you have a fresh start each day.  How you chose to handle things yesterday does not dictate that you have to go down that path today.

Here’s an extra tip. 

Create time in your schedule for the things that matter.  By scheduling those in first, there isn’t space for all the other stuff!  

How has your planning come along?  Has it been all play & no work?  Or, perhaps the other way around?

Let me know!


NOTE: This article was originally published on August 5, 2016.  It still has the same great ideas & resources that initially inspired me, but has been updated to reflect the process & approach I use 5 years later.

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