How to build good work-life balance habits
Online classes through Athabasca University (AU) are designed to help move you toward your next goals in life alongside the realities of your day-to-day. Working learners often wear many hats, though, and it can be difficult to reach and maintain a positive work-life balance.
You must build a strong foundation that supports your growth at work and higher education, while still keeping it all in healthy perspective.
Set comprehensive goals
When busy learners think about their goals, the top categories that come to mind are career and education. However, focusing on only these two aspects of your life leaves out so many of the things that sustain life itself and make it worthwhile.
How do you nurture relationships with family and friends?
How are you safeguarding your physical and mental health?
What are you learning outside your coursework that enhances your cognitive and personal growth?
List all the areas of your life that are important to you, and set quantifiable, attainable goals for each one. Getting everything down on paper is a good start on the path to work-life balance.
Rank those goals
Prioritizing your goals is vital to maintain balance, particularly for those working full-time jobs and being a student.
First, divide the desired achievements you listed into long-term, short-term, and maintenance goals.
Long-term goals, such as how much money you want to save by the time you retire, give you a glimpse into the big picture. Short-term goals, such as the grade you want to achieve in your current courses, reflect what you need to do to ultimately reach those long-term goals and inform the small things you do each day to work toward them. Maintenance goals, such as exercising or eating healthy, are the ongoing wellness checks that you don’t want to let slide while pursuing other dreams.
Next, pick the top short-term or maintenance goal in each category that is the most important to you. Assign a specific weekly milestone to help you achieve it. For example, if your most important health goal is to keep your cholesterol down, a good way to work toward that is to get three cumulative hours of vigorous exercise per week. That may sound like a huge chunk of time, but you can break it up, and keep in mind that every goal is not going to take a three-hour time commitment.
Finally, it’s not enough to set weekly plans; you have to follow through (that’s the hard part). An effective way to do this is to track your growth. For example, there are several goal tracker apps that help you keep up with your progress. Schedule a daily check-in to make sure something isn’t falling by the wayside.
Another way to keep yourself accountable is to enlist a trusted friend or therapist to help. Make appointments to talk about your progress and discuss any tweaks that need to be made. Be honest with yourself and this confidant. If working toward a certain goal is stressing you out, hearing yourself say it out loud to someone else may be the piece you need to adjust it so that you can find more harmony.
Work-life balance requires consistent attention and adjustment. As you pursue your higher education through AU, balance can help you succeed as a student and lead to growth in other areas of your life at the same time.