Back to School: Adding Another Block to Work-Life Balance
by Cheryl Marks Young
You are ready to make the leap. You’re going back to school. Whether you’re dipping your toe in return-to-school waters with one course, or you’re diving right in to a full degree or certificate program, school adds an entirely new and challenging dimension to the work-life balancing act you’ve been trying to master. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.
You don’t have to do it all. All those things that usually fall on your plate, both at work and at home, don’t necessarily have to be there. Take a hard look at the tasks you’re currently responsible for and identify some that can be delegated to someone else. That might mean other members of the family pick up more of the shared workload for the time being, or that you outsource some tasks like house and yard work. In the office, it might mean mentoring staff to take on more responsibility.
You’re adding hours of class time and homework to your already busy schedule. You can’t add more minutes to your day to compensate for it. What you can do is let go of the idea that you’ve got to do it all at once. Maybe this year you can’t step in and help coordinate the annual PTO gift basket auction, and you’re going to have nominate someone else to represent your department at the office for the task force that’s about to get underway. Set your priorities: What must be done by you right now and what can be done by someone else or postponed until later?
There are a lot of good ways to keep track of your time and your to-do list. Find one that best suits you and use it. Don’t maintain separate work and home calendars. Keep tabs of all the things that vie for your attention in one spot. That makes it easier to have an honest assessment of your time, which is crucial when it comes to keeping all the moving parts in good working order.
There are a lot of reasons you’ve decided to return to school. Have a family meeting and share those reasons. Let your family know why this is important to you and how it will ultimately have a positive impact on you and them in the long run. Then ask for their support: their emotional support, their understanding, and their willingness to pick up the slack while you’re cramming for finals.
Make Time for You
I get it. When the deadlines are mounting at work and school, carving out time to enjoy a family dinner or an afternoon at the park seems like a luxury you just can’t afford. Yes, there will be sacrifices along the way as you juggle it all. Don’t, however, make a habit of giving up the things that help you relax and recharge. You need time to just hit pause on the obligations and enjoy the life you’re building. Remember, this is about balance. Sometimes one area of your life will get a little more TLC than another, but ultimately, you need to attend to all facets of your being for any one of them to be successful.