Tips for Finding Your Work/Life Balance


naspa graduate associate program gap

Author
Jack Korpob and Veronica Roman

Published
June 2, 2014


As a graduate student, you probably hold various graduate assistantships, internships, and leadership roles.  This balancing act can be rather daunting, especially during busier times of the semester.  As a student affairs professionals, you may often encourage students to live balanced lives and yet you may find you often fail to do so yourself.  How can you support others while you support yourself?  Finding a work/life balance allows you as an SA professional to 1) function at your fullest potential and 2) lead by example.

So the question remains: How do you find a work/life balance while still being able to do everything you want to do?  Here are 10 tips that have personally helped us 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 and wellness!

Jack Korpob is a Residence Director at the University of Vermont. He can be reached at [email protected]. Visit his blog at www.jackkorpob.wordpress.com

Veronica M. Roman is the Assistant Director of Student Involvement & Leadership at Oxford College of Emory University. She can be reached at [email protected] Visit her blog at www.milagrosmoments.com


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