Avoiding burnout as an online teacher

One of the biggest challenges many online teachers, and indeed solo entrepreneurs in general, face is burnout. You’ve dedicated yourself to growing your business and making it a success, you’re teaching students all week PLUS doing all the admin work of running a business, and you just can’t cope any more.

Well don’t worry, you’re not alone – I’ve been in exactly the same position, as have many other online teachers before you. You WILL get through this, and come out the other side with a more sustainable business in the longer term, both in terms of your finances and your mental health.

Here are a few suggestions to help you avoid burnout and have a better work-life balance by saving time, maintaining interest and setting boundaries.

1: Don’t re-invent the wheel

Look for opportunities to save yourself time by using pre-made teaching materials such as the Abridge Academy curriculum. All your slides, worksheets, flashcards and homework sorted!

These are not only more professional and engaging for your students, but save you hours of preparation time every week. That’s hours more time you have to either work on your business or spend with family.

2: Automate, automate, automate

Another way to save time is to automate as many of the repetitive admin tasks you have to do. Here are some easy suggestions:

  • Switch from manual invoicing to recurring monthly subscription payments;
  • Use book-keeping tools such as Quickbooks or Xero rather than manual spreadsheets;
  • Batch create and pre-schedule social media posts with Tailwind, Canva or Meta business suite;
  • Use AI tools like Education CoPilot to create lesson plans, write feedback or plan social media content;
  • Schedule classes at fixed times each week or use a booking calendar system like SuperTeacher rather than dealing with class rescheduling requests.

3: Outsource time-consuming tasks

As your business grows, you may find that you are wasting a lot of time on admin or marketing tasks, when in reality what you really love is the teaching (or maybe vice-versa!). You end up being a VERY overworked Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none.

Instead, focus in on what you are really good at and enjoy doing for your business, and outsource the rest. Hire people to post on your social media, manage your website, do your book-keeping or create teaching materials for you. Or if it’s the teaching you don’t enjoy any more, hire other teachers to teach for you. This in not only an approach that saves you time and energy on tasks you don’t enjoy, but also helps your business grow in the longer term.

A great place to find freelancers (before you’re ready to take on permanent employees) is Fiverr.

4: Consolidate teaching hours

Are you teaching random hours dotted throughout every day? Move your classes around to fit within a smaller number of days per week, without awkward gaps between them. This helps you work more efficiently and have shorter, more intense teaching periods you can get done in one go. 

Consider also offering group classes rather than one-on-one, thus earning more per hour and serving more students while teaching fewer classes per week.

5: Cut energy-draining students

Are there any students you really dread teaching, or feel totally drained afterwards? Maybe some with pushy parents who are constantly messaging you with unreasonable requests? 

These students not only take up your time, but also drain away your energy and focus from other clients or tasks that need doing. Sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind, and it’s time to cut those students away. 

6: Switch things up a bit

Are you following a set step-by-step curriculum and it’s starting to feel monotonous? If you’re feeling bored with what you’re teaching, it’s time to switch things up a bit! Try different curriculum, topics, subjects or class formats.

If you’re an Abridge Academy ultimate curriculum member, add in lessons from some of the expansion courses such as Seasonal Celebrations, Space Explorers or Travel. These give both you and your students a bit of a change, while still developing their English skills.

You could even consider teaching a different subject entirely – check out the Science Boost lessons for advanced middle schoolers! 

Another way to switch things up is to change class formats. Offer a short “virtual camp” group course on topics like debating or run a one-off master class. If your students are more self-disciplined, selling self-paced courses can be another great way to diversify your class offering.

Getting excited about teaching something new can really help boost morale! 

7: Treat your business as a 9-to-5 job

Let’s be honest, probably 90% of people don’t LOVE their job. But they get through it because it’s a 9-to-5 and they can go home to something they enjoy. Treat your business the same way:

  • Give yourself set hours, and don’t be tempted to “just check a few messages” in the evenings.
  • Have set working days, with two days off a week for a proper weekend break.
  • Find a dedicated working space / home office, away from your living room or bedroom.
  • Dress for “work”, then change for “home”: put on your business wear to put yourself into “work mode” and then relax in comfy clothes outside of your working hours.

These strategies help you get into a better work-life balance while treating your business like a “normal” job.

8: Find a new hobby

Do you sometimes feel like you spend all day in front of a computer, then all evening watching TV? Or maybe you’re a solo entrepreneur and solo parent, feeling like you never actually have time to meet people and relax with friends? 

Too much screen time or alone time isn’t healthy. Time to find a hobby!

The ideal hobby is one that gets you outside, socialising with people or being creative. Join local walking clubs, craft groups or volunteering programs. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

9: Take a complete break

There’s a reason “normal” 9-to-5 jobs give employees 20+ days off a year. Taking a complete break from work enables you to refocus and come back refreshed, with a new perspective on things. 

Take a one to two week vacation to explore somewhere new, spend time with family / friends, and enjoy a change of scene. Leave your computer behind and turn off business email notifications so you can really enjoy the time off. 

It may sound scary to be “abandoning” your business for a whole week, but your students will still be there when you’re back. Ideally try to schedule at a time when they’d like a break too, e.g. during a school holiday period or just after exams. 

What’s your top tip for avoiding burnout as an online teacher?

So there we go, nine awesome strategies for saving time, maintaining interest and setting boundaries to help you have a better work-life balance and avoid burnout.

I may be a little biased here ahha, but I’d always recommend investing in good quality curriculum to save you time and energy when teaching online! 

What’s your top tip? Let us know in the comments below…

Katie Prescott

Katie is a qualified classroom teacher with experience teaching in the UK, China, Japan and online.

She is also the creator of the Abridge Academy curriculum and has helped thousands of teachers have success going independent through her courses, coaching and free webinars. 

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