Developing a strong work-life balance


  Developing a strong work-life balance

As our lives, work, and family responsibilities become more complex, there is a temptation to stay in the same old routine. If you’ve been feeling burnt-out or like your efforts aren’t meeting expectations lately, it might be time for a refresh. A recent study found that lack of sleep can actually make people fatter and eat more sugary snacks. That truth just goes to show how important it is to get a good night's rest every night! 

On top of the physical health benefits of quality sleep, I think there are also some really positive psychological benefits as well. For one, research suggests that getting a good night’s rest can increase cognitive flexibility, or the ability to adapt to new situations and environments. This can be important in helping you meet your goals on the job. Additionally, I think sleep also plays a central role in allowing you to think more clearly and ask the right questions when you start making important career decisions. 

One of the first questions to ask is how much time you have available for work and family. One strategy could be to set up a schedule where you take on a big project, but then give yourself some time off to spend with your family afterward. 

Another important question to ask is what kind of work-life balance you’d like to have. For example, do you want more structure with set hours in a particular day? Do you want flexibility? Have you considered setting up different working arrangements based on the seasons (working more around events like summer vacation)? 

Another thing that might be helpful is setting goals for the different areas of your life and then assessing whether your current routine supports these goals. This could mean considering your work-family balance in terms of which way you’d like to see it evolve over time, or what kind of work you’d like to do before retirement. You might also want to think about what you want from your job and how your family fits into that. 

All these factors together may help give you a new perspective on how work, family, and personal life might coexist in the future. 

Practical tips:

Decision making: When looking at new opportunities or making decisions about career goals, it can be helpful to set check-boxes for "Success," "Not Success," and "Caveats.” Success would be if you actually found a way to achieve what you set out to achieve. If it didn't work, you'd check "Not Success." If something prevented it from working—like a deadline or an outside force—you'd check "Caveats." This might help you avoid de-railing yourself early on by assuming that everything will go perfectly. 

Schedule: You will find the right amount of time to spend at work and at home (and with friends) through trial and error. Start by making some adjustments as needed, and keep experimenting until you find a schedule that feels like the right balance between the two. If you find that staying at work later than you have is causing you extreme fatigue or stress, then it is probably making it harder to be a good parent. 

Work-life balance: It might help to think of your work and family life as two separate people. In other words, there are certain things that each person may value (such as a flexible schedule), but they might not be interested in having the same kind of person in the other role (a person who sleeps all the time). While it can be difficult to make such a split, it may be easier to change one of the parts without having to change the other. 

With this strategy in mind, you can start making healthy adjustments with the goals you set for your work and personal life. This might include identifying what you want and then setting some realistic goals for each area. Then it's a matter of figuring out how those things fit together in a way that creates a balance that works for you at this point in time. 
During my first year at UVA, I took advantage of a support program called Transition Year that gave me an opportunity to explore new ways of working and living through an international work holiday. I spent time working in Ireland, South Africa, and Bolivia to develop my professional skills while learning how others approach work-life balance. 

Another opportunity is to spend a year or semester abroad studying at a university that combines academics with opportunities for community service. I did this during my senior year of college and it was an amazing experience! 

I’d be happy to talk with you more about these experiences and how they might help you explore your own career options. 

Next steps: 

Visit the Transition Year website . Since 2008, UVA students have participated in the program and it's won national awards for its innovation.

. Since 2008, UVA students have participated in the program and it's won national awards for its innovation. Consider undertaking a short-term study abroad program . You can choose from different destinations all over the world, including numerous countries in Africa and Latin America.

. You can choose from different destinations all over the world, including numerous countries in Africa and Latin America. Explore opportunities to participate in summer internship programs through The Career Center or your major department. This will help you network with potential employers while also developing skills that will look good on your résumé and graduate school applications! 

Transition Year:

Blue Ridge Community College:

UC Berkeley:

Best Practices for Managers:

New York Times:

Scott's College of Business web site:

Circumstances under which to leave work [link]:

Forced to Return to Work: Tips from a College Economist, by Michael Schrage, https://www2.oclc.


Job search (overview):

Nontraditional job search (overview):

Best practices for students in the workplace:

Appendix B: Job-Seeker Resources, Career Articles, and Job Search Links [Link]: http://www2.aacu.

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