Colleges & Schools 

Striving for Balance

You know why you’re going to school—to advance your career, or set an example for your children, or to earn more money. But sometimes it is the how that is hard.

Finding the perfect balance between the demands of work, home and school may actually be impossible, so let go of perfection and say hello to some strategies that can keep you on the road to success.

Your issue: You’re tired, distracted and have a to-do list a mile long.

Strategy: Forget multitasking and try some new time-management tools. Some experts recommend “chunking” or carving out time to work on just one specific set of tasks. Force yourself to focus on finishing one “chunk” of work before unloading the dishwasher, running an errand or playing with the kids. The Pomodoro Technique—created by an Italian who had a tomato-shaped kitchen timer—has also proven effective. Set a timer for 25 minutes, work steadily and with laser-focus until the timer goes off, then take a break. You can find lots of helpful YouTube videos about the Pomodoro Technique online.

Your issue: You worry that an online class will add to a “zooming” level of exhaustion with remote work and social distancing.

Strategy: Keep in mind that today’s online classes don’t mean hours of recorded lecture. You’ll participate in discussion boards and pop-up quizzes, among other tricks, to keep your attention. Many classes and programs will offer opportunities to socialize, too, over remote lunches and other networking events—so take advantage of the opportunity to meet a whole new set of real friends. If you have a laptop or even mobile phone, you can take your class anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal, including your backyard. And, while there are ways to liven up your online life—book club discussions or games, for example—make sure you are getting some fresh air, away from technology. Unplug with regular outdoor exercise or pick up some old favorite hobby, such as fishing or gardening.

Your issue: Your home isn’t just home anymore—it’s chaos with everyone learning, working and socializing remotely.

Strategy: First, remind yourself that this is likely a temporary set of circumstances, even if it feels like forever now. Second, allow yourself to feel the frustration without judgement. It’s understandable if nerves are frayed. Look around. Are there some practical steps you can take on a daily basis to get into a new routine? Consider, for example, taking all school and work projects off the table—literally—for two hours each evening so you can have a real dinner. Practice the time management techniques above—such as chunking—with the entire family so that work and school happen in a very focused, concentrated period of time. 

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