Term 4 is here, and 2022 is almost over. So let’s inject some balance back into what is traditionally the most bonkers term of the year, and talk about ways to find balance right now.
The way we view the work-life balance is changing, but studies continue to show that having a work-life balance that works for you can have multiple positive outcomes, and can increase how satisfied you are with your life. Finding balance doesn’t mean spending the same amount of time at work and outside of work – it means finding a balance of activities that works for you.
Some of us are study or workaholics and will happily spend 60 hours a week on our ‘calling’, but most of us need other activities, which could be any of the following:
- Spending time with friends and family
- Physical health and exercise activities
- Mental health related activities and ‘downtime’
- Hobbies and interests outside of work
- Caring for others in our family
What’s your Number One Priority?
We can often get thrown off balance by competing priorities – in other words, too many things are demanding our attention at the same time. So, if you want to get your life back in balance you need to work out what the most important thing on your radar is right now.
- If you have exams and assessments coming up (like most of us in Term 4), then your academics will probably be your obvious number one choice. Commit to your studies for now, and put everything else into slots number 2 and onwards.
- Are there any end of year projects you need to wrap up? Is that end of year deadline looking a lot scarier this side of September? Great – make your project top priority for now and get cracking.
- Have you got everything ready for what’s coming in 2023? If your studies and projects are tracking nicely, but you’re stressing about next year then focus on forward planning for now – work out where you’re living, where you’re banking, and how you’ll finance life.
- Term 4 can often be killer for our health (physical and mental), so if you’re really suffering, consider making your health your number one priority before the Summer Holidays. Recognise what you need to do to start feeling better and put your plan into action.
Once you’ve decided what your priority is, write it down, stick it on the wall, and remind yourself of it all the time. It’ll help you focus on what you need to get done.
Make time for the things you love
Just because you have a number one priority now (well done you) doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking hour on that one thing. Make an active effort to schedule in time for the other things you do, including your hobbies and structured activities, plus any health and wellbeing activities. If you have caring roles you need to perform make sure to budget time for those roles that doesn’t impinge on your priorities, and seek out support from others to share the caring duties if you’re struggling.
Start by scheduling time for one thing you absolutely love each week. Even if it’s just 30 minutes to chill by yourself, set a time and don’t let anything get in the way. Put it in your calendar and tell other people about it, so they know where you’ve gone and why.
It’ll give you something to look forward to, and in no time you’ll feel more balanced.
Keep track of everything you need to get done
Got a lot on your plate? Don’t try to store everything in your head – make a to-do list and get it out of your brain and onto paper.
If tasks have due dates then add them to the list as well, and add notes as you think of other things that could help you with your tasks. If you’re looking at your Term 4 to do list and don’t know where you’re going to find the time then enlist help now – ask a friend or family member if they can help (or take on) any of your tasks, and work out if there’s anything that can wait for the Summer Holidays or even later.
Once you’ve planned your ‘must-do’ tasks, see if you can spot any time left over – that’s the time you need to take for your balance. Got a free Saturday in your calendar? Fill it up with something you love right now, so it can’t get taken over by other stuff. Can you see a week without too many assignments? That’s the week you need to plan your end of year social life.
What are you looking forward to most?
Finding balance can sometimes be as simple as having something to look forward to. It’ll keep you going when things get tough and give you a mental escape, even if you can’t actually get away from your task list.
Dr Adam Fraser has found that experiences can be even more powerful and deliver longer lasting positive feelings than purchases, so try to find an upcoming experience to be your thing to look forward to (and avoid daydreaming about new shoes – they’ll only give you a short-term fix.)
It’s Term 4, so you could be looking forward to exams being over, Christmas celebrations, end of year parties, or getting away for a break. Just as you did with your Number One Priority, write down the thing you’re looking forward to and put it somewhere you’ll see it all the time. It’ll keep you focused on the good stuff, and remind you that there’s more to life than work or study.
Set aside time for your physical and mental health
If you’re struggling to find balance (and that’s understandable in Term 4), make an effort to at least set aside time for your physical and mental health. Getting sick will slow you down and make everything even harder, so schedule time into your life for your physical and mental health and stick to it.
This could mean going for a quick walk before you sit down to study, or getting up 15 minutes early for a quick workout at home. Check out these 6 home workout ideas from Polar, or take a look at these simple exercises for you to try at home.
If you need to, give yourself a bedtime. Set your phone to switch to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, or even better, turn it off at the same time each night, and make sure you go to be on time. Being tired can have the same effect as being drunk – you’ll have problems concentrating and getting work done – which means if you’re staying up late to study you could actually be harming your performance.
Even if you can’t find lots of time for the things you want to do, and seem to spend most of your life stuck doing the things you have to do, being physically fit and mentally healthy will help you feel good while you work on finding your balance.
Remember, Term 4 (and 2022) will be over soon
As much as we’d like to, we can’t promise 2023 will be better. But we can promise that if you work on incorporating these tips into your life, you’ll feel more satisfied with your work-life balance than you do today.
Want more wellbeing tips? Check out this page for some more resources.