Blurring the lines between “working hours” and “living hours” is a dangerous habit. Frustration from school and work blend seamlessly into home life, skewing productivity and the quality of life in both worlds.
Learners can find themselves perplexed when they find themselves desperately dashing off the last lines of an assignment in the brief moments between waking up and carrying out their morning routine. Many will remember a time when they were half-engaged with family and half-engaged with an article.
Maintaining a balance between work and life is a freeing pursuit that encourages growth and presence in both areas. To determine how one can maintain a work/life balance, three things are necessary.
1. Understanding Work/Life Balance
What exactly is a work/life balance? As used in this article, it refers to a lifestyle that enables someone to maximize their presence and productivity in their home and work lives.
This does not mean that there can be a total separation between work and life. There is no flawless method keep the mind from wandering between work-life and private concerns. There is rarely any way to keep family matters away from the workplace. The goal of a work/life balance is to dedicate the time and energy needed to carry out the demands of both worlds while preventing unnecessary overlap.
2. Practicing Work/Life Balance
Balance is subjective, so people will find different routines and workarounds in their lives that work for them which might seem ridiculous to another person. Any general list of common methods will reflect this, as different practices will be appealing to different people.
Being able to streamline a routine may be the difference between rushing in the morning and having a free hour after getting ready. To begin the process, take a day to catalogue the activities you do every day and the approximate time it takes to complete them. Look at what you can do in each activity to shorten the amount of time it takes (such as preparing an outfit before bed rather than in the morning or shaving at night instead of in the morning). Little stretches of time add up quickly.
Setting aside time for certain activities directly helps to keep work separated from home. Being sure that assigned reading will happen from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm every Saturday, or being sure, that wake up time is 8:30 am every day will help determine when those times are not. Time not scheduled is time that belongs to the scheduler.
Being able to set aside some time to relax the eyes after a long period of strain or to walk away from a challenging problem is a very effective way to re-prime the mind and body for continuous work. While most applicable to career and academic activities, taking small breaks will go a long way in preventing burnout and encouraging good health.
3. Avoiding Common Mistakes
There are some important mistakes to avoid when setting up a work/life balance.
- It is a terrible idea to employ inconsistent sleep patterns. Sleeping habits will differ between people and their lifestyle, but keeping patterns consistent is crucial. If someone typically goes to sleep at 10 pm, they should try to be consistent.
- Avoid cutting out one or another part of life. Being able to say no is crucial when families, work and school all have their demands. This does not mean that anyone should be neglecting any of these responsibilities.
- Small breaks do not justify procrastination. Procrastination and relaxation are not the same. Sometimes gritting teeth and working past one’s limits can protect the learner from long-term strain and keep them confident in their capabilities to challenge their limitations.
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Written by Samuel Sprague, a public policy major at Grand Canyon University