Updated: Apr 20
As we progress through life, achieving a work-life balance seems more and more impossible. Demands on our time start to build up, and it's getting difficult to fit all activities we had in a single day. Being a college student, our study or work often comes before everything else in our lives. That lifestyle, however, could affect us negatively in many different ways, and that is why making a well-proportioned work-life balance is essential to us. Hence, we’ll be taking a closer look at what a good work-life balance is, why it is so important, and a few tips and tricks to balance our personal life and work.
Defining work-life balance involves looking at how people manage their time spent at work and outside of work, which include managing their relationships, non-work-related responsibilities, and other interests or hobbies. The ultimate purpose of work-life balance, after all, is minimizing your stress due to work and establishing a way to work while maintaining our well-being. Achieving work-life balance means that we are equally content with both our work and our personal life, and that there is no domination of one aspect over the other. This particular topic has recently become a frequently discussed issue due to the advancement of technology that removes the significance of physical location in working. Since the start of the pandemic, most students do all of their work from their own homes. This, however, caused a new problem as the line between work and personal lives became blurred. At home, students are having a hard time knowing when to work and when to rest, and thus their mental health suffered greatly these past 2 years.
The ideal work-life balance should include enough time and energy to do our work, socialization, relaxation, and exercise or physical activity. As students, we often prioritize academics at the expense of our own well-being. This is the wrong mindset to have, as having a balance in our study and personal life is important for an optimal academic functioning. With an awful work-life balance, a decline in our academic performance could happen, as our physical, emotional, and mental health are vital at keeping us performing competently. For students, especially for us in college, a lack of balance between their personal lives and study could easily overwhelm us. A balance between the two is crucial to have, especially during our freshman year, as we are put in a totally different environment and still need time to adapt.
A major problem that lots of college students face is getting involved in too many activities outside of class. Making time for physical and social activities is of course an important aspect of work-life balance, but feeling the pressure of participating at every single activity or event available on campus just because you’re fearing of missing out won’t do you any good. With this mindset, you’ll eventually burn out and not have enough energy to perform well in class. This is why having good time management skills is such a valuable thing to have as a college student, as balancing courses, co-curricular activities, and having enough rest can be highly tricky.
When trying to balance professional and personal life, it is important to create a schedule that works for us. First of all, we need to realize that work-life balance will look different to everyone. A schedule that works for someone wouldn’t always work on us, and vice versa. The point of having work-life balance is about feeling satisfied with our work and happy with the decisions we take. Work-life balance is not about dividing the time between our work, physical activities, social activities and resting equally. It is about having the ability to complete tasks effectively and efficiently while still having enough energy and time to do whatever is in store for us outside of work, like hanging out with friends or enjoying the time spent with our family.
The first step in an attempt to create a work-life balance that suits us should be to accept that there is no such thing as a perfect work-life balance. When we hear the term work-life balance, most of us instantly imagine having an uber-productive day working and still having half a day to spend with friends, family, and even some time for yourself. This, however, is more often than not an impossible thing to have, though it would be extremely pleasant for basically everyone. Oprah Winfrey once said, “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” So, don't strive for the perfect schedule. Instead, strive for a realistic one.
It is also imperative to find co-curricular activities that suit you. Studying can be very exhausting, so it is important for us to find activities that we truly enjoy, activities that help us de-stress. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, you aren’t going to be happy, and it will tire you even more. You don't need to love every single aspect of the activities you do, but at least those activities you chose should be activities that excites you, is beneficial, or gives you a sense of fulfillment or satisfaction when completed. Find activities that make you feel good about yourself and help you to recharge.
Balancing our professional life with our personal life also involves setting work goals and sticking by them. When creating one, be honest on how we work and come up with realistic goals, as failing to complete one could be discouraging and may affect us going forward. When working, give yourself little breaks between each task to replenish your energy, but don’t take too long. To keep ourselves on schedule, it is important to give every assignment we have our undivided attention. Focus on what we are doing at any given time to prevent wasting valuable time and exceeding deadlines we’ve set prior. Also, it would be great if we do a constant check with our schedule to keep ourselves focused on what still needs to be done.
Lastly, it is important to reward yourself after our hard work. Acknowledging ourselves when we’ve done a good job is essential in creating a balanced work and life as it gives us a sense of content and makes us feel energized. Without it, we’d feel depleted and resentful after doing our job. So, give yourself rewards when you finish a difficult task, or even reward yourself for the smallest thing such as successfully sticking to your schedule. This would help you encourage yourself to continue your good work and it acts as a positive reinforcement.
In today’s society, we are constantly faced with the pressure to keep “hustling”. We’re conditioned to believe that wearing ourselves out will eventually lead to big achievements. People believe that by putting in long hours at work, they would certainly succeed in the future. This overworking culture is one toxic aspect of society that leads to the increasing mental illness rate. The effect of the so-called “hustle culture” became so severe to the point where people would feel guilty when they step away from their work and have a little break, and that’s why having a balanced life is extremely essential. Hard work more often than not does pay off, but it is important to not overwork yourself to a degree where you’re sacrificing your own wellbeing.
Article by William Alexander Hukom
Research and Information EIS FEB UI