10 tips for work/life balance


The balancing act can be rather daunting, especially during busier times of the semester.  As a student affairs professional, you may often encourage students to live balanced lives and yet you may find you sometimes fail to follow your own advice.  How can you support others in addition you support yourself?

Finding a work/life balance allows you as an SA professional to function at your fullest potential and lead by example. Here are 10 tips that have personally helped Jack Korpob and me maintain our own work/life balance:

  1. Say “No” // In student affairs, you are often presented with great opportunities or you are asked to do more than you can handle. Oftentimes, you can find yourself saying “yes” to everything because you are afraid another opportunity will never come around again or you feel obligated to do something to prove yourself. This all makes sense, but you have to think about how you are feeling and if it will be effective if you say “yes” to what is being asked of you. If you truly want to do something and your “yes” is genuine, by all means say “yes” to the opportunity. If your heart is not in something or you are feeling exhausted, it is better to be honest. This may sound hard to do because it is.
  2. Treat Yo’self // For some, it’s getting a monthly massage, for others it’s buying a nice meal. Whatever it is, find something you consider a “luxury” item and give it to yourself. It’s something to look forward to and is something for you. In student affairs, we oftentimes give ourselves to students and colleagues, but we may forget to give back to ourselves. Remember that you have your own life and that you should enjoy it!
  3. Live Authentically // You can’t be one person in one place and then go home and be completely different. Try to take your best self into each environment, as opposed to balancing which environment should get your best self that day. Living authentically will help you naturally maintain a sense of balance within all of your environments.
  4. Expand Your Professional and Personal Circles // When you think about balance, it also means the people and relationships you have with others. Try meeting people for lunch or outside of work hours who you do not directly work with. If you can speak about other things besides work (or keep conversation about work to a minimum), great! Even better, really capitalize on friendships outside of work or your institution. Having friends in different social circles can really make a big difference.
  5. One life, One Calendar // Combining your personal & professional calendars helps you see the bigger picture and make conscious choices about how to spend your time. Once an item is put into the calendar, make sure you are fully present while you are addressing that particular item.
  6. Make Time // You have the power to put things in your calendar that give you energy and help you get through the day. Setting a time-limit for each item in your calendar or on your to-do list is difficult, but it allows you to be more efficient and move forward to address other tasks as well.
  7. Give Yourself Time to Recharge // You all know student affairs is not a typical 9-5 position. Some people live-on/live-in and work nights and weekends. However, it doesn’t mean you should not set boundaries between your work life and personal life. This does not mean that when it’s 5pm, you should stop all work activities, but it might be wise to set a range of times that you should begin to slow down. Deadlines must be met, but if you are not pushing a deadline, work will be there when you get there in the morning. Take time to relax and recharge and do absolutely nothing.
  8. Get Some Sleep // You can schedule your day with work and other commitments and do the things that give you energy, but you must take the time to sleep enough hours every night to do everything you want to accomplish. Make sure to balance your waking hours with your sleep. Sleep is a prerequisite for wakefulness. Manage your sleep and you can do much more when you’re awake and feeling refreshed!
  9. You Do You // Although it is helpful to ask others for tips on how to achieve a balanced life, what works for one individual may not work for you.  Don’t be afraid to try new strategies to determine which strategies work best for your own lifestyle.
  10.  Don’t Give Up // “Balance” will have a different meaning to you at different points in your life.  Remind yourself that finding a sense of balance is a process, not an end-goal.  It takes patience and lots of practice.

So here you have it – 10 tips that can help you with work/life balance!  What would you add to the list?

xo vm

// original post here

// more on balance here

// thoughts on living a fulfilling life here


don’t use the b-word (busy)

life's too short

I’ve been trying to figure out what people really mean when they tell me they are busy. Is it a discreet way to brag about all of their involvements? Is it a cry for help because in reality they are absolutely exhausted? It is an excuse to justify why they haven’t performed to their fullest capacity?

Tim Kreider argues busy-ness serves as a way to ensure life has meaning. The busier we are, the more important our lives are to ourselves or others. Tyler Wardis claims busy people do not manage their lives well or they might have a lack of confidence.

The down side? Tyler says busy-ness restricts professional performance, limits mental capacity, and keeps us from really enjoying life.

According to research in the Journal of Happiness Studies, Americans maximize happiness by working while other cultures maximize happiness through leisure. If we are constantly working towards an ultimate goal, when will we ever slow down?

My point is this: we are all busy. Say it with me this time. We are all busy!

So how do we move beyond being busy to being in control of our lives? It is one thing to say we are striving towards living an integrated life, but it looks (and feels) entirely differently to actually live it.

In an effort to reframe my thoughts about my workload, I have spent two months challenging myself to not tell people I am busy.  It seems like a simple task, but it has been incredibly challenging considering how *cough cough* busy I have been lately.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

People need support, regardless of the degree of their workload // Surprisingly, people seem impressed when I don’t talk about my workload. Often this sounds something like, “aren’t you balancing two jobs? What about classes? How do you manage everything?” At this point, the conversation is less about how busy we are and more about the tools and resources that have helped us get through the semester. I greatly appreciate these conversations because we end up sharing our resources and establishing a support system between the two of us.  Avoiding discussions about being busy leaves room for conversations about how to support each other during the busiest times.

People are relieved when I talk about something other than my own workload // I never thought I could help relieve someone’s stress by avoiding discussions about my own.  Avoiding discussions about busy-ness challenges us to reframe our conversations when we are talking to others.  This type of reframe guides us to have more light-hearted conversations which results in less stress for everyone involved.

Ultimately, the goal is not to work less; the goal is to work more intentionally.

Working intentionally does not lesson the quality of our work.  Instead, working intentionally means we are being more deliberate about the way we approach our workload in order to avoid being “too busy” while still being productive.

What steps are you taking to avoid being overwhelmingly busy?

xo vm