Work And a Life…How?

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Work-Life Balance”, multiple times. It is usually a presentation that a Higher Education staff member will give during a professional development series or a phrase that you will hear floating around…mostly from other colleagues who are letting you know they don’t have a very good one because they are working all the time and have no life. However, I’m here to reiterate how important it is to have a work-life balance, reduce stressors in your life, and be a good proponent of time management.

As a graduate assistant, we are taught to never say no to any opportunity that comes your way. Any professional development opportunity, conference, assignment, special project, etc. that slides across your desk you are told to take advantage of. While I support the enthusiasm of your supervisor who wants you to succeed and achieve, I would take a second to review your current obligations, its relevance to your career path and finally the time it will take to complete this new project. Then reflect on your answer. If you are passionate about the project, if you have the time to devote to it, and it will potentially open up new doors for your career then I say carpe diem. However, after you have taken a critical look at this new opportunity in front of you and have decided that it is not worth your time, it is ok to say no!!! Who knows, maybe another opportunity will open up later on that is more advantageous for you.

Student Affairs professionals work tirelessly in order to do the best they can for the students. I think that mindset is always with us when we keep piling on the tasks and adding more to our plate. Our intentions are always good, but eventually we hit a breaking point. Usually what occurs when an individual is overloaded with projects, something gets misplaced, certain projects do not get the full attention they deserve, you get sick, or you eventually get burned out and start searching for a way out.

Stress is real. It can cause illness, emotionally and physically. Please make sure to critically review all new projects that come before you. If the project is an opportunity, examine if it is worth it. If you realize it isn’t, say no! You will regret it later if you say yes then find yourself not getting anything out of it or worse, getting sick or burnt out.

I’m not saying that you should not have challenges in your life and work hard to achieve something great. That is why you need to work hard to have effective time-management skills. I like To-Do lists. Every day before I start anything I make a To-Do list of the tasks that I need to complete. Then I assign those tasks to a letter, either A, B, C, D, or E. If there is a task that deserves my attention first and needs to be completed ASAP, I assign it with the letter “A”. The letters “B and C” are assigned to minor tasks that need my attention, are not due right away or just simply need additional work completed on them while I await another part of the project to be returned to me. D means that I can delegate the task to a student leader or another staff member. One should never end up with a task that deserves an E, which stands for Elimination. Although a list might work for me, find what works best for you to effectively manage your time. Believe me, by taking the time to find which tools work best for you, you will be able to take advantage of more opportunities and still have a great life that you will enjoy.

Make sure that you continue to take on challenges that will help you professionally, but always remember to keep a healthy work-life balance. Remember, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Jonathan Davey

@jdavey24

Student Affairs - the First Years

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