Finding that work/life/school balance
Jul 18, 2021
Countless studies show that students who balance 10-15 hours of work per week during the school year have higher chances of finding employment straight after school, develop stronger emotional intelligence and even achieve higher grades than their peers who do not have work. However, with the pressure of completing schoolwork, partaking in co-curricular activities and trying to enjoy your high school experience, the idea of adding work to the mix can feel a little overwhelming, to say the least.
In this article we discuss the best tips and tricks to find and maintain a solid work, school and life balance to make sure you're able to achieve all your ambitions in each category.
Scheduling your time
Time is one of the only things in life that we can't buy, yet we often waste it or use it inefficiently. The most effective method to achieve a balanced life is to utilise scheduling. Scheduling is the practice of breaking down your time into designated slots that are then assigned to the various tasks you need to be completed. When it's done effectively, it helps you:
- Understand what you can realistically achieve with your time.
- Make sure you have enough time for essential tasks.
- Reduce the risk of being double-booked or not having enough time to successfully achieve other goals.
- Ensure you have enough time to relax and to spend with family and friends, exercise and hobbies.
To successfully create a schedule there are a number of different methods to choose from. One of the simplest and most effective methods is to use the calendar app on your phone as you can then set reminders of events and have all of your activities centralised in one place.
Once you have decided on the method, try scheduling in the following way:
- Identify the time you have available outside of your school and sleep schedule.
- Break down that time into how many hours a week you want to work, study (outside of school), partake in any hobbies, hang out with friends and relax. (It may change weekly).
- Communicate with your employer when you’re available and how many hours you want to work, to avoid being overworked or double-booked. (They would far rather you tell them you can’t work a shift when they are making a schedule than 10 minutes before a shift is to start.) Once you receive the weekly shifts from them, proceed to mark them off on your schedule.
- Fill the remaining space in your schedule firstly by your top priority tasks, whether that be writing an assignment or training for a competition, then continue down your list of tasks based on their importance until you are finished.
- Make sure that there is enough time for yourself, relaxing may seem like a low priority but too much work can burn you out.
NOTE – This process may need to be repeated weekly if your shifts, priorities and goals change each week.
HINT – When scheduling tasks close together make sure you leave enough time to travel between their locations.
Get a good night's sleep
We regularly hear about the benefits of getting more sleep, from solidifying what we learnt that day to improving our moods, but we rarely manage to achieve this advice with the average teenager only achieving 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep per night. According to Better Health Victoria, this number should really be between 8 and 10 hours of sleep and that if properly followed, your levels of stress will decrease whilst your effectiveness at your tasks and happiness increase.
Make time for yourself
Make sure that in your busy schedule there are periods for you to take a step back and have a breather. Whether that is grabbing coffee with friends or watching TV before bed, it is important to have some guilt-free relaxation. Not only will this time make you have something to look forward to whilst working but it will make your work more effective in re-energising you.
Work smarter, not harder
Another great way to ensure you make the most of your time is to reduce how much time you spend procrastinating – something which is harder said than done.
Procrastination is often confused with being lazy, yet they are very different. Procrastination is an active process whereby you choose to do something else instead of the task at hand which can make it extremely easy to slip into unknowingly. By procrastinating, you are allowing your ‘to-do list’ to grow and grow into an intimidating amount of work. Once all that work has piled up, it will be even harder to motivate yourself to get started.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognise that you're doing it. Then, identify the reasons behind your behaviour and use appropriate strategies to manage and overcome it. Such strategies include:
- Breaking down big projects and work into small ‘bite-sized’, manageable and time-bound chunks, making it easier to track what you have achieved and make you feel proud of completing many goals.
- Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself, whether it be a chocolate or additional relaxation time.
- Ask someone to check up on you. Having a peer or family member make sure you are on track is super valuable in convincing yourself of the continued importance of the task.
- Minimize your distractions.
- Tackle the hardest tasks at your best times. Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you're most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times.
Utilise your support network
If you are finding yourself overworked, tired, or generally unbalanced with your current state of life then reach out. Your support network is a vital tool that you need to learn to utilise as you reach adulthood, whether it be a family member, friend or teacher, there are people who have your back in life and it can be super beneficial to lean on them in times of stress. Use these people to vent some of your emotions out or to receive advice on how you should overcome any issues you are facing.
The benefit of these skills in the workplace
According to the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the priority skills in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry (inclusive of the Hospitality sector) are:
- Teamwork and communication
- Resilience, stress tolerance and adaptability
- Self-management (including time management)
Learning and adopting the skills outlined in this article will not only lead to a more balanced lifestyle but are fundamental skills required in future full-time employment.