On the Job: Balancing work, school and home life

Photo by RENNIE PATTERSON Ashleigh Brown, columnist and student at Mount Mary University.

Ashleigh Brown, columnist and student at Mount Mary University.

After a three-year hiatus from school, there are days when I feel that I must literally choose where to concentrate my efforts: work, school or home. When the alarm rings at 5:45 a.m., it’s like the gunshot that starts a race, and as I jump each hurdle trying to catch up, I look around and think, “Something’s got to give.”

After an early workout, I hustle off to work. Eight hours later, it’s straight to class until 9 p.m., when it’s time to go home. Granted, not every day looks like this, but when it does, it’s difficult. There’s also homework, family functions, cleaning, errands and hopefully some entertainment.

This holiday season, I’m trying to strike a better balance in my life. Here are some practical tips if you want to do the same.

Realistic goal setting

When you approach a situation with a vague checklist, it’s easy to get sidetracked and feel like you haven’t completed anything. I’ve been approaching this by prioritizing one or two things I want to get done every day, whether it’s writing this article or doing a load of laundry. It’s a big self-confidence booster to see items checked off your to-do list every night.

Managing your time

In addition to having a defined schedule, it’s worth stepping back to really see how many hours you have to spare and what you spend those hours doing. By measuring my free time in 15-minute chunks, I already feel like I can accomplish more.

Organizing your space

A messy closet or a paperwork-laden desk can drive me nuts. When I don’t know where things are, not only do I waste time looking for them but I get frustrated which contributes to my stress level. Set today’s realistic goal and organize your desk or bedroom.

Thinking big picture

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutes and hours we chip away in a day, but when I get stressed or overwhelmed, it helps to put things into perspective. I remind myself why I’m in school and that I’m working towards the greater goal. The fact that I’ve burnt my toast won’t matter tomorrow.

It’s only a start, but the path to accomplishment and adulthood has to start somewhere. As I reflect on my past, the strides I’ve made in my education and career pleasantly surprise me. Yours will, too!

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