We know striking a healthy work-life balance can be tough, so when you consider adding an education element on top of that, the thought can be downright overwhelming. The balance may take some trial and error but the reward will be some incredible benefits! With a bit of focus, planning, and grit, this season of work + life + school is totally possible. As you consider this epic triad and think through the blueprint of your work/life balance, here are eight practices to help you foster success:
Make Communication a Priority
This starts with those in your personal life and should make its way into your professional life as well. Let those at home know what you are working towards, in which areas you will need help, and what your new schedule will look like. Do the same with friends and family, letting them contribute their opinions and fill any gaps or tasks you may have overlooked. Let professors, bosses, and co-workers know about your other obligations and where you may need help or flexibility. Make friends with other students who you can not only study with, but do life with! Your new cohort will help you build a much-needed support system and can lend a dose of sanity when the going gets tough.
Know Your Goal and Rework Your Priorities to Match
Creating a long-term goal that incorporates the ultimate reasoning behind your educational endeavor allows you to shift your focus and reprioritize. It also allows you to set limits while giving you a bigger picture to come back to in those hard moments: restoring purpose, vision, and balance. So, write out your long-term goal and create smaller, realistic goals to get you there, little by little. Remember: it is very important to celebrate each of these mini-milestones, especially while working toward a difficult goal.
Make a Designated Workspace
While it is easy to overlook, having a dedicated place for schoolwork is important. This space should not be used for relaxing or sleeping. It needs to be kept clean and organized. Take time to optimize the lighting, which can contribute to your overall mood and ability to focus. This space should be comfortable and equipped with everything you need. Distractions are also a no-go here; your goal is to be super productive every time you use this space, ultimately spending as little time as possible on each task, which will give you more efficiency in your homework schedule. Using this compartmentalized model for your workspace, you’ll find it helps to get into the mindset of work/school/knitting tiny cat sweaters much more quickly.
Take Control of Your Time
Time management and prioritizing your schedule will be key during this season. Make the time to plan ahead and be intentional with your schedule: map out your day, plan your week, review the course syllabus, and prepare meals in advance. Time dedicated to reviewing your calendar will also be needed.
When making your schedule, break large tasks into smaller ones, plan time to relax, set deadlines, and group like tasks together. This will help you eliminate downtime when developing a routine, which will help your stress and energy levels. Remember: your schedule won’t be like this forever–you are working towards something major!
Utilize Vacation Days
While it may not seem like the vacation day you want, it may be the vacation day you need. Planning vacation days around big projects/assignments or tests or to catch up on responsibilities can help restore balance while relieving stress and anxiety.
You know your priorities. You’ve made a schedule. You’ve set deadlines. Now it’s time to keep them. When you manage your time well, you will be better able to handle any concerns as they arise. Procrastination in one area may cause interruptions in the other areas of your life, which can easily snowball. Keeping procrastination at bay by staying on schedule will do the same for your stress and anxiety levels.
Consider Your Natural Tendencies
It’s important to factor in your habits when planning and working through your schedule. At what time and in which environment do you learn best? What motivates you? What elements are needed for you to implement a successful reward system? Do you need to practice mindfulness in order to focus on the task at hand versus on everything you’re not doing? How can you incorporate self care and your relationships into your schedule? Do you notice perfectionism getting in the way? Considering your honest responses and tendencies when establishing your schedule will increase the likelihood of follow-through.
Set Aside Time for You
When making your daily and weekly schedule, schedule yourself in. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get your much-needed shut-eye, relax, spend time caring for your relationships, and to have fun! Find ways to incorporate self-care into your new routine and make sure to celebrate small wins as you achieve them. Remember, enjoying life (at least once in a while!) actually makes us more productive.