Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak back in March, the skepticism, approach and adjustment to virtual learning has been quite a struggle for many students. Some students, myself included, have found it very difficult to maintain the same motivation to power through class, engage with the course load and be involved in extracurricular activities, as they once could in the traditional classroom setting. And with the recent news that Temple University is canceling spring break as a safety measure for next semester, having a work-life balance, as a young professional and student, seems more important now than ever.
Previously a buzzword, work-life balance (WLB) is defined as the ability to prioritize your time between work-related activities and non-work-related activities such as having fun, self-care and enjoying time with friends and family. Work-life balance aims to help you avoid stress and burnout and conduct a more meaningful, rewarding life. This can look like adjusting your work schedule to attend a yoga session for mental health, scheduling the necessary time off to spend a family vacation or even avoiding checking your email outside of work hours. For a student, this could look like scheduling your classes with intentional breaks to avoid burnout or factoring in gym time within your day. WLB allows for a structure that accommodates both your personal needs and work needs.
However, with the ongoing pandemic and continuation of remote learning and work, there has been a lack of structure around what a typical remote workday looks like. Students and professionals are finding themselves working more even though their commute time has decreased significantly. We’ve started to experience Zoom fatigue—a lack of focus from spending too much time on Zoom calls and meetings. Pre-COVID, according to an article by Entrepreneur.com, the average American workday typically lasted 8.35 hours. But since the pandemic, according to another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Americans are working about 9.5 hours a day. Why might we be working more even though we’re avoiding traffic, office and after-class chats? This could be attributed to an imbalance of spending more of the day working then engaging in leisure time. Without those typical markers throughout your day, like hitting the dining hall for lunch or leaving five minutes early to catch the train, that indicates the beginning, middle and end of your workday, it’s harder to know when it’s time for work to end and leisure to begin.
As the lead founder and president of Fox For Balance, an organization that focuses on promoting wellness and establishing a work life balance culture at the Fox School of Business, one of my main goals is to create awareness around the importance of actively incorporating work-life balance into your schedule. For instance, one member on our team routinely schedules Fridays with self-care activities because she normally feels burnt out by the last day of work week. Additionally, all our members engage in some form of mindfulness meditation throughout the week, whether it’s a full meditation session at night before bed (like I do) or conducting small “mental check-ins” throughout their day. Some of us even schedule one hour power naps between breaks by utilizing an alarm, which helps with focus and productivity.
Let’s face it: we are all human. Even with the perfect WLB framework, it still may be difficult to keep your sanity. We need human connection and often require some form of outdoor activity to develop that joy which keeps our hearts warm. Personally, as an extrovert and social butterfly, the pandemic has brought along a whirlwind of challenges for me. With limited opportunities to engage in face-to-face conversations, I can get unmotivated, uninspired and unhappy sometimes too. But that’s why work-life balance is so important! You’re going to have days when you feel down But by finding a balance between work, school and personal life, you’ll become happier, more fulfilled, and oftentimes, more productive.
Through Fox For Balance, my hope is that Fox students can learn the tools and strategies they need to be more mindful of work-life balance and to make the most of your work-day. Email us (@Fox4balance@gmail.com) to learn more about Fox For Balance and how to incorporate Work-Life-Balance into your schedule. Also, Follow us on social media for upcoming events! While many of us are working and living at home, we must give our bodies and minds time away from work.