Juggling work, home and study commitments as a parent or mature aged student can undoubtedly be a challenge.
When you have so much to do it can be difficult to achieve work-life balance, causing negative impacts on your mental health, stress levels and general well-being. To avoid burning out, it’s important to strike just the right balance between work, play and personal commitments –here’s how you can do it.
Plan, plan, plan
There’s only 24 hours in a day so make sure that you’re using them wisely. To ensure that you have plenty of time to fit everything in, map out your goals and a list of what needs to be completed over the next few months such as assignments and work projects. Make sure that you also allocate time for any personal commitments and relaxation. If you're balancing study and work, set a study schedule and be realistic about what you can achieve in the allocated time.
Once you have an idea of what your schedule looks like you can start to plan ahead. By doing this, not only will you be able to avoid the stress of trying to do everything at the last minute, you will also be able to see where any imbalances are in your life and ensure that you have enough time to achieve a healthy amount of work, rest and play.
Learn to prioritise
It’s always important to work smarter, not harder by prioritising what’s most important in order to achieve work-life balance. This can involve critically examining what is on your to-do list.
Ask yourself if you really need to rearrange your kitchen cupboards this week or if can you use that time to work on an assignment due at the end of the semester instead? You can’t be on top of everything in your life at the same time so it’s important to devote your energy to doing things that deliver the most beneficial outcome, so you don’t feel overworked.
Give each task your undivided attention
Studies have shown that multitasking makes us less productive, so to do each task well, be sure you give it your full attention. If it’s family time, make a promise to yourself that you won’t think of the essay you have to write or the report that you have to complete, and remove any phones or tablets from sight.
Once it’s work or study time, make the task at hand your focus and avoid worrying about the errands you have to run or the chores you have to do. You’ll be much more productive and efficient when you’re not dividing your attention between a million different things.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
You can’t be expected to do everything all by yourself so don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can include drafting a family roster to share household chores or enlisting the help of a co-worker to tackle a mammoth project together.
Being able to fit everything in can often come down to being able to ask for assistance when you need it.
Learn to say ‘no’
Most of us are hesitant to say no whether it be at work or to our family and friends. It’s important to remember that when you say yes, it also means you’re saying no to something else.
Ask yourself each time you say yes whether it’s something that you want to give your time and energy to or are you just doing so out of obligation? If, for example, you say yes to a social engagement because you’ll feel guilty for not going, just remember that’s a few hours that you may otherwise have spent on something you really need to do.
What is work-life balance? Find out what work-life balance means to the average Australian.