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Juggling Work, Home, AND School

Juggling Work, Home, AND School

A recent survey of online students at the University of Georgia found that one of the main reasons they have chosen to pursue a degree online is that it gives them far more flexibility. These students have careers and families that must take priority. 

So how do you balance the added priority of graduate school? Some basic points can help keep you on track and ensure your priorities get the focus they deserve.


Prioritize your responsibilities. Work and family consume much of your day. Identify the times of day when there are fewer competing priorities. For many graduate students, nights and weekends may be the best times to set aside for school.  For others, it may be lunch hours or time before work.  Whatever time works best for you, by setting aside specific times for schoolwork, you can be sure you have allotted time for this added priority.  


As you are laying out your priorities and setting a schedule, don’t forget your health! Long hours do not necessarily mean productive hours. Mental and physical health are also essential priorities. Overworking yourself without taking time to maintain physical and mental health can be detrimental and can impede your progress in your career, studies, and personal life. Exercise, sleep, and fostering personal and professional relationships will help keep you healthy and mentally clear. 


Planning ahead for each semester will help prepare you, your family, and your employer for what to expect.  Create a workspace designated for your schoolwork. Keeping your desk or table clear can help draw boundaries between school, work, and life. Try to find a quiet space away from any possible distractions. If you cannot find a space away from family and TV, get yourself some good noise-canceling headphones. In addition to organizing your space, outline your schedule with allotted times for different course requirements, personal responsibilities, and work assignments. Build micro-breaks into your schedule to clear your mind and reset your attention before sitting down to the next task. Time management is essential to a harmonious work-life balance.  It is also crucial to communicate your plan with your employer, family, and friends. This will enable the people in your life to know what is going on, to understand when you are available and when you are occupied, and to plan their needs and expectations around your schedule.  

Say “no”

Don’t be afraid to say no. Define your capacity, take stock of your obligations and responsibilities, think clearly about what you want to achieve, and then create boundaries to ensure you stay on the path you want to be on. If something comes up that does not fit within this framework, say “no” rather than letting it impede your progress. Saying no in these situations can be crucial to achieving your long-term goals. 

Establishing your priorities, maintaining your mental and physical health, planning and organizing your environment, and sharing your goals with those around you can help everyone understand if you have to say no. Following these basic steps will help you on the path toward your best work-life balance.

For additional online resources that will help you balance work, home, and school visit our student resources page.