When you have achieved work-life balance, you’ll be happier, calmer, more productive.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the benefits of a reasonable work-life balance.
That’s even more true for students pursuing degrees or certificates while working part- or full-time. When the tug of war between your personal, professional, and academic obligations feels like it’s under control, you’ll be happier, calmer, more.
Here’s what you can do to manage your work-life balance while working toward an academic credential.
1. Learn How to Say “No”
Perhaps more importantly, learn how to say “no” when previously you may have said “yes.” This is particularly important when it comes to managing your social calendar; now that you’re juggling work and school, you’re simply not going to have the kind of free time to which you’ve perhaps become accustomed. Your future self thanks you for politely declining that second round of drinks.
2. Create and Stick to a Weekly Schedule
Learning to say “no” doesn’t mean becoming a recluse, of course.
Strict scheduling is your friend, here. If you know today what you’re going to be doing next Tuesday, you’ll be able to commit to that social coffee date or Skype conversation with the same certitude that you must bring to your academic and professional obligations.
3. Find Your “Study Heaven” and Use It Often
Find a reliable place to buckle down and get serious work (or study) done. Most career-oriented universities have student lounges and cafes where it’s easy to be productive without feeling like you’re sequestered away. If you prefer a quieter space, the school or public library is probably a better bet. Or maybe you work well at public coffee shops. Wherever it is, find and use your “study heaven.”
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to turn to trusted friends and family members for help. Whether you need someone to walk your dog when you’re at an evening class or watch your kid on her day off from daycare, you’ll find it far easier to balance your personal and professional obligations with outside help. You might be a hero, but even heroes can’t do it all on their own.
5. Set Near, Medium, and Long-Term Goals
Where do you want to be in five years?
If you’re pursuing your degree or certificate while continuing to work full-time, you probably have a pretty good idea — perhaps sitting in your boss’s office, or well on your way to another, hopefully, higher-earning career.
Now, where do you want to be in five days? One month?
Setting near-term priorities can be just as vexing, if not more so, than laying out your long-term strategic vision. But day-to-day and week-to-week goal-setting is far more important to your work-life balance in the here and now; you’ll have trouble reaching your long-term goals if you can’t make it through the semester, after all.
Achieve Balance, One Day at a Time
Even well-adjusted student-employees get overwhelmed from time to time. If you ever feel that your work-life equilibrium is slipping away, focus on what you can control, today. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the prize at the end is too important to squander.