Doctoral learners are preparing for innovation and leadership in their field. Keeping a tight grip on time is crucial for success. In both online and on-ground programs, research is a constant demand. The ability to balance personal, professional and academic responsibilities is an important life skill that will serve graduates long after earning their degree.
Creating a work/life balance takes time and practice. When work or personal demands change, or commitment softens, it is important to review your work/life balance and tackle some common mistakes.
1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Any work/life balance will challenge you to commit to a routine, which can be challenging over time, especially for learners in a doctoral program. Small mistakes can be disappointing, but our reactions usually have more impact than the mistake itself.
For example, a restless night might make you less productive throughout the day, but it does not stop you from going about your workday, research and personal life. It is more of a strain to go through the motions, but sleep is something you can recover.
2. Keep an Eye Out for Patterns
Learners are susceptible to forming harmful habits, especially with persistent research demands. A restless night may lead to restlessness over time, and you may find yourself distracted or engaged in idle activities throughout your day.
Some patterns (such as poor sleep hygiene) affect necessary parts of a healthy lifestyle, but some come from conflicting priorities causing you to spend time irresponsibly (such as taking on too many projects at work or abandoning academic responsibilities for your personal life).
It is important to keep track of these small problems over time, whether you record them in a journal, keep a record of the time it takes you to perform activities during the day or simply keep an eye out for recurring problems.
3. Avoid Hyper-focusing
Too much focus in one area of life is the problem a work/life balance tries to avoid. Stressful moments or setbacks in your doctoral journey can cause irresponsible behavior. Focusing too much on academic responsibilities can be harmful to your performance in all areas of life.
4. Avoid a Routine Rut
Time is valuable and easy to lose, which is why routines are extremely important in the doctoral journey. A successful work/life balance will involve regular scheduling, streamlined morning routines and commitment to routine. When a work/life balance is too strict, learners are likely to burnout and neglect self-care.
5. Set Goals
Goals are important for the success of your doctoral journey. Setting goals in all areas of your life is a way to test the success of your work/life balance. Goals might include writing a certain number of words weekly, seeing movies with friends or families, finishing projects before a deadline. Whatever you plan to achieve, goals give your work/life balance a stronger sense of purpose and direction.
6. Expect the Unexpected
Unexpected events happen in life. Sometimes learners will be justified in throwing aside the work/life balance for family emergencies, extreme burnout and other situations that require serious commitment.
These events do not excuse you from getting back in touch with your work/life balance, and your ability to get back into a healthy lifestyle will be crucial to success in your doctoral journey. Recognize that unexpected events will happen, but accept that you will need to persevere and keep up good habits.
7. Know a Bad Balance
There are times when some learners may find a balance that seems “good enough,” even if it causes strain or stress occasionally. An example of this is having a flexible morning routine where you may not have clothes set out or where you tend to make breakfast shortly before leaving for work. Flaws might not ruin your balance, but it is important to save yourself needless stress by keeping life orderly.
Are you ready to take the next step in your career? Grand Canyon University offers a variety of cutting-edge doctoral degree programs designed to prepare you to lead and innovate in your field. To learn more about the programs offered by the College of Doctoral Studies, visit our website or click on the Learn More Information button on this page.
Written by Samuel Sprague, a public policy major at Grand Canyon University.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.