Leaving school on time can feel like an almost impossible task for teachers all over the country. Regardless of how optimistic your intentions, the realities of marking, lesson planning, and administrative duties always seem to get in the way of heading home at a decent hour.

It is a widely accepted truth that burnout is becoming an inevitable part of teaching. Indeed, with so many hours necessarily dedicated to boosting students’ grades and taking on extra responsibilities, teachers are often forced to forego opportunities to socialize and unwind, something that can take a real toll on their mental health.

It does not have to be this way, however. If you’re a teacher, you owe it to yourself to leave school on time and enjoy what life has to offer beyond the world of work. If you regularly struggle to leave school at a decent hour, we’ve put together a few hints and tips to help you out:

1. Don’t be afraid to avoid after-school chats

It is common for teachers to give each other the low-down after a long day at work or to discuss the needs of a certain student. However, it is important to remember that there will be plenty of time to talk about these kinds of issues at a later date.

If you’re keen to leave school without talking to co-workers, politely let them know that you have other things to be getting on with. If you’re having trouble with a particularly chatty colleague, check out this handy guide that discusses how to them down gently. You are not obliged to chat!

2. Team up with a co-worker with similar goals

It is likely that there will be other teachers in your school keen to establish a routine in which they leave on time. Why not work together to ensure that your goals are reached?

This could include a number of actions including:

  • Walking out of school together at a set time.
  • Packing up your classrooms at the same time (you could even see who manages to do it fastest).
  • Booking a gym session after school that you will both attend.

Adding a little bit of peer pressure to your routine will ensure that you stick to your goals and will help nurture your mental health in the long-run.

3. Schedule appointments shortly after school

Scheduling haircuts, medical appointments or daycare collections for a time shortly after the school bell will encourage you to leave on time. There’s nothing worse than turning up late for an appointment, after all!

4. Learn to prioritize

Leaving school on time often means figuring out which tasks need to be completed today and which can be left for tomorrow or, indeed, later in the week.

Tasks that probably shouldn’t be left until tomorrow include:

  • Urgent phone calls or emails to parents.
  • Forms that need filling out by the end of the day.
  • Tomorrow’s lesson plans.
  • Setting out supplies for tomorrow.

Tasks that can probably be left for later include:

  • Changing seating plans.
  • Reorganizing your classroom.
  • Administrative tasks without a fixed or close deadline.
  • Planning lessons taking place next week.

5. Close the door after your final lesson ends

When you’re preparing to leave school and finishing your final tasks for the day, you should avoid distractions. Leaving the door open after your final lesson of the day may seem like an invitation for other teachers to come and chat to you. Closing it, on the other hand, will give you time to unwind and get your head straight.