Balancing Work and Life While Working at a Community College

naspa community college division

Jeff Rose

October 18, 2016

As many of us can attest to, working at a community college can be both a rewarding and demanding experience.  Student affairs professionals are actively involved in students’ education as well as their personal lives in order to support their educational success.  This involvement can not only lead to long work hours, but also leave us mentally exhausted -- leaving little time or energy for our own personal lives.  

According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, more than half of full-time employees in the United States reported they work over a standard 40 hour work week.  In addition, 40% of these respondents reported they work over 50 hours a week.  Attending to our responsibilities at home after a long work day can quickly turn a balanced life into an imbalanced life.  Continual imbalance can ultimately lead to mental health issues, physical ailments and ultimately a reduction in your quality of life. 

So what can you do while working at a community college to create a healthy work life balance?  There is an overabundance of advice on the subject online.  Just Google work life balance and view the multitude of links which appear.  Here are some suggestions which consistently appeared: 

  • Create schedules for work and home.  This will help organize your thoughts on what tasks need to be completed by what dates. 
  • Have your entire family share their schedules so everyone is aware of upcoming events. 
  • Learn effective time management skills for both work and home.  Learning more about your most productive time frames, multitasking and the importance of routines can help reduce stress.  
  • Make sure downtime with family and friends is occurring on a regular basis and even added to your calendar if necessary. 
  • Decide on how many extra hours per week you’re willing to work.  Being cognizant of how many hours you’re actually working can help you leave work or arrive to work by certain times.   
  • Designate times each day for relaxation.  Taking ‘time outs’ at home and at work for as little as 10 minutes can help lower blood pressure, pulse rate and promote emotional calmness. 
  • Limit your responsibilities both at work and at home.  Be comfortable in saying ‘no’ if time doesn’t allow you to take on additional responsibilities. 
  • Eat healthy to boost your alertness, improve your mood, reduce your stress and minimize health issues.  Learning more about what different foods can do for you can help you ‘eat smart.’
  • Prepare healthy foods ahead of time for your busy days.  Most people eat poorly when they’re busy which can have ill effects on your mood.       
  • Protect your home life by minimizing taking work home.  Staying later at work to complete a project can help you feel more relaxed when you finally reach home. 
  • Don’t look at work emails, phone messages and texts while not at work.  Continually checking these outside of work can make you feel as if ‘the world is your office.’    
  • Maintain an exercise regimen to improve your health and help you become more resilient to stress.   
  • Discern if the job is right for you.  Balance is difficult to attain if you’re in a job that isn’t fulfilling. 

Your institution can also create policies to promote a healthy work life balance.  In the next blog installment, I will explore institutional practices that can promote employee wellness.

Jeff Rose is the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Delaware Technical Community College and also serves as a Mid-Level Professional Representative on the NASPA Community Colleges Division Board

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