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Creating Balance to Take Back Control

Mon Jan 18, 2021 at 07:30 AM

Faculty members juggle many responsibilities such as teaching, advising, research, service, and ever-changing technological teaching practices. These responsibilities do not include a variety of personal roles and obligations they are dealing with outside of work hours. With the current state of the world, this has only added to faculty workload making work-life balance more important than ever. To stay balanced, tips and questions are listed below to help prioritize during an uncertain time. It can be challenging to change external factors making prioritizing and setting boundaries essential.

Health Advocate as well as other sources have helped supply tips and questions to consider when trying to create balance. Specifically, Health Advocate is available to all OU full-time and part-time employees. It is a service OU offers that provides confidential assistance from a licensed professional around a variety of issues including stress, anxiety, depression, relationship challenges, divorce, job-related issues, family difficulties, parenting advice, and more.

Creating Balance at Work

  • Organizing your professional space may help you feel more balanced when completing tasks, even if your workspace is simply a laptop, notebook, pen, and waterbottle.
  • At the start of each workday, think of one activity that is the most important for you to accomplish to help in prioritization.
  • When creating professional goals, make sure they are realistic. If you know you tend to overestimate your work, intentionally set goals beneath these expectations. Do not set yourself up for failure. 
  • At the end of each workday, make a list of all the items you have accomplished, creating a sense of peace when leaving the office.
  • At the end of the workday, write down any issues that occurred. When you are done writing, rip it up and throw it away. (For a digital version, carry out this activity in one set place, and use “strikethrough” on your daily writing.) This can help avoid bringing your work-related frustrations outside of your work hours. 
  • Track how much you are working each week. Faculty experience a high rate of burnout because their work lacks the boundaries of a typical 8-to-5 job. Tracking your time can help you see how much you actually work and set boundaries from there. Toggl is one of many easy tools for tracking work in general or specific projects.
  • Learn to say “no” in your personal and professional life. Boundary-setting is essential when creating balance. Faculty in your personal network and professional organizations can provide guidance on appropriate but strong ways to table requests and opportunities.

Creating Balance in Your Personal Life

  • Make your personal life a priority by setting aside a certain amount of time each day to do something you enjoy. Those who take time to prioritize their physical and mental health have shown to be happier than those who don’t.
  • When prioritizing it is important to separate the “needs” from the “wants” in your life.
  • When enjoying time with family and friends make sure it is free from distractions.
  • Create an area that is a place where you can be calm and relaxed.
  • Make sure to have some fun!

Questions to Help Set Your Priorities

  • What physical needs are a priority to you?
  • What emotional needs are a priority to you?
  • What does a successful professional life look like to you?
  • What does a successful personal life look like to you?
  • What is one thing you can do right now to become more balanced between your personal and professional life? 

A perfect work-life balance is unrealistic. However, what is realistic is working on your time management skills, stress management skills, and the energy to effectively deal with the demands in your life. Take back control by creating balance.


Strategies to Attain Faculty Work-Life Balance (the Ohio State University)

Why Clocking My Work Hours Shifted My Work-Life Balance (Sciencemag, 2020) 

Health Advocate Resources 

The OU community has access to Health Advocate Portal, which offers a variety of resources including webinars and articles around work-life balance. When you access the Health Advocate Portal and click “Access Your EAP Benefits,” check out some specific articles below on work-life balance that were used to create this teaching tip!:

Related CETL Teaching Tips

These plus other teaching tips and resources are offered in CETL’s Productivity and Teaching Hacks: Faculty Resources.

Save and adapt a Google Doc version of this teaching tip.

About the Author

Caitlyn Hennings is a Wellness & Educational Outreach Coordinator at University Recreation & Wellbeing. She has a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion, is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and has received a certification in Clinical Health Coaching. Caitlyn is new to Oakland County and just moved here from Delaware where she had lived her entire life. Photo by June Wong. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC.View all CETL Weekly Teaching Tips. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.