The Art of Work/Life Balance: Don’t Choke. Bite Off What You Can Chew.

Written by Matt Jarrell, Resident Director 

While every student is different, there are some easy clues that make it easy to identify a Logger.  Is it the maroon hoodie and Frisbee in hand?  Or maybe the iconic brown Diversions coffee cup with the black sleeve?  Sure, those are all great guesses.  But the Logger clues I’m referring to involve a planner and speed walking from class to club meeting and then chapter followed by a late night study session.  Loggers are busier than they ever have been, bouncing from one activity to the next.  The challenge that comes with being the over achieving Puget Sound student is the delicate art of balancing work and life.

Work/life balance is about creating a pattern that works for you in your situation.  The habits you create now as a student will stick with you as you enter the work force and well into your adulthood.  The question to ask is, how can you be most effective so you can take care of the many things that matter, including yourself?  The Center for Creative Leadership researchers have identify five categories, or patterns, of behaviors:

Integrators blend work with personal tasks and commitments throughout the day. Their work life interrupts home life and vice versa. They move from business calls to running personal errands to taking care of someone; managing tasks anytime from anywhere. An example of this style is someone who takes a long lunch break to exercise, but then offsets it by working from home that night.

Separators keep work and personal tasks and commitments separated with a boundary between the two. They tend to work during “business hours” and from a work location. Work stuff stays at work and home stuff stays at home. This is the more traditional style of working where someone would never take work with them on weekends or vacations.

Work Firsters put their work schedule first and protect work time. They let work activities interrupt family time, but do not let family matters interrupt work. An example of this style is a parent who answers e-mails and makes work calls at sports events, family dinners and vacations — but rarely makes personal calls at work.

Family/Friend Firsters put their friends and family schedule first. They allow work to be interrupted by the needs of their loved ones, but protect their family/friend time from work interruptions. An example of this style is a parent who rearranges work to care for a sick child or elderly relative — but rarely gives up family time for work.

Cyclers switch back and forth between periods of integrating family and work followed by periods of intentionally separating them. An example of this style is a person who travels often or who has seasonal or project-driven work. Others may cycle around school schedules or other personal circumstances.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more of different trending work/life balance strategies, I ask you to be reflective and answer the following questions:

(1) Which behaviors do you find yourself identifying with?  Are you proud of these choices?
(2) Do you feel like you have a positive work/life balance?
(3) How do you prioritize things?  What do you value?
(4) What is something you can change in the next week that will keep you productive, but give you an opportunity to take care of yourself?

The best advice an advisor gave me as a student is that, instead of biting off more than we can chew…take one really really good bite and chew it thoroughly.  He was a great advisor, not only because he knew how much I love to eat so I would understand his analogy, but he kept reminding me that I can’t take care of others unless I take care of myself first.  This is college, you should be enjoying it, not drowning in books and highlighters.  Work/life balance isn’t easy, and it’s constantly changing as your responsibilities and values change as well.  But the sooner you start practicing healthy habits, the happier you will be!

SOURCES:
Hannum, K. (2013, 07). 5 ways we do the work/life juggle. Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/leadership/enewsletter/2013/JULfive.aspx?sp_rid=&sp_mid=42032814

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One Response to The Art of Work/Life Balance: Don’t Choke. Bite Off What You Can Chew.

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