5 Tips to Achieve Your Optimal Work/School/Life Balance

Published - February 21, 2018

CBD College’s Top 5 Tips to Achieve Your Optimal Work/School/Life Balance

Work/ life balance is not a myth!  However, for the students who work full-time and study part-time, it can be a challenge.  If you’re a prospective student, the dilemma of pursuing a degree while working and having a family seems daunting.  Assessing priorities remains an integral component of successfully balancing life, work, and school.   The many roles a student plays often conflict.  Attaining the balance between those roles, in a sustainable way,  promotes a healthy way of life.  Self-motivation, self-discipline, time management, and the ability to prioritize are all essential ingredients to graduate or medical school success.  Here are some of our favorite tips which help evaluate the factors towards achieving a healthy balance work-school-life balance.

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1.  Track your time

Adopting the right combination of time-management practices can cut stress and save you up to an hour a day. This can include the use of technology to become more organized, grouping emails and voice messages, avoiding procrastination and learning to say “no.”  Some way you can incorporate time management into your day include:

  • Plan your schedule.  Plan segments of time for study, family, exercise, and other tasks that need to get done.
  • Make a weekly to-do list.  Whether paper or electronic, this is the vehicle by which you turn your priorities and goals into reality. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or the night before) to plan your tasks and activities for the day and evening ahead.
  • Break large tasks into their smaller components.  Experiment with the best times for you to study and how frequently you need breaks
  • Set goals and deadlines for projects.  Also, figure out the best place to study where all of your materials are accessible and you can truly focus.
  • Avoid perfectionism.  Perfectionism refers to a set of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors aimed at reaching unrealistically high goals. It is based on perceived standards of excellence and often fueled by the need for others’ approval.  Contrary to the perfectionist’s belief that it is only through giving 100% to every project, assignment, or cause that they will find success, studies have shown that perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success.
  • Honestly assess the amount of time you waste. Keep a time log of everything you do for one week, including work-related and personal activities. This data will serve as an eye-opener, helping you understand how you are using — and where you are losing — your time.

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2.  Shuffle Your Priorities

Spend some time seriously reflecting on what is most important to you, and make a list of your top priorities at work and at home. Then analyze your time audit by asking yourself these key questions: What do I need to start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing? Do more of, do less of, do differently? Consider which of your endeavors will be the highest priority during which semester.  Devising a strategy for handling work, home, and school will ease these pressures and enhance your performance in all areas.  Students often prioritize academics at the expense of personal factors, including relationships and exercise. This can lead to a decline in academic performance, as general health and well-being are critical to optimal academic functioning.

3.  Establish Boundaries

At Home

For instance, you might commit to not working late on certain days unless there is a crisis. Additionally, set aside a time at home during which you will not check or respond to work-related emails or voicemails.  Develop a mental on-off switch between work and home. It helps to establish a transitional activity between the two realms. This might consist of listening to music or recorded books during your evening commute, exercising at the fitness center, running errands, or keeping personal appointments. Scheduling such activities immediately following your normal work hours also prevents you from spending that extra twenty minutes at the office which then turns into several hours.

At Work

Students juggling work in addition to competing obligations from school and home may experience greater challenges in striking a balance. In these cases, it is even more crucial that you are adept at attending to different roles and setting priorities.

If you are overwhelmed at work, explain your situation to your boss or supervisor. Unreasonable work situations can usually be alleviated, but it starts with you.Forward-thinking companies today create policies and programs that facilitate work-life balance. Find out what options your business offers in terms of flex hours, telecommuting, a compressed work week, job-sharing, or part-time employment. Your survival job should allow you to work more productively, while at the same time cutting stress and freeing-up valuable personal/family time. If your company does not yet have a flexible scheduling program, consider proposing one.  It can’t hurt to have a conversation about how to move forward.

4.  Take Care of Your Health

Make time for you and cut yourself some slack.  Your health should always be your No. 1 priority. If you are not in good shape physically, mentally, and emotionally, every aspect of your life will suffer- work, school, and home. Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals (especially breakfast), exercise at least three times per week and sleep a minimum of seven hours per night. While you may not think you have time to add exercise and extra sleep to your jam-packed schedule, these practices relieve stress, raise your energy level, increase your stamina, improve your mental clarity, boost your immune system, and make you a happier, more engaged, and more productive person. Additionally, refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relieve stress. These substances only tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause even more problems.

A rigorous education demands your time and energy, but it shouldn’t deplete your health, your professional life, or your family life.  Every once in a while, reward yourself for a job well done. Indulge in a dinner at a nice restaurant or a day trip out of town.


5. Nurture Your Family/Relationships

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The quality of your relationships can determine the health of your school/life balance and are by far some of the greatest sources of inner satisfaction.  Making the decision to go back to school doesn’t just affect you.  Make sure your family understands your objective and are willing to step up at home.  A large focus on academics and work can cause strife in personal relationships, minimizing your sense of support. Similarly, a preoccupation with relationship issues at the expense of academics or work issues can be detrimental to performance, which can put further strain on the individual and the relationship.

Finding ways to integrate school and personal life is essential.  Use and reinforce your support system. Discuss your expectations for school with your family and friends. Inform them about your schedule so that they know when you can’t be disturbed and when they can expect your full attention. Negotiate household duties based on your schedule.


Any medical professional can tell you work-life balance isn’t an exact science. Each person must find his or her own way of combining career, relationships, and personal care into an integrated whole. What is right for you now will likely change as new circumstances arise, so take the time to check-in with yourself and adjust.

Don’t get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes all at once. Even if you implement only a few of the above strategies, they will have a positive and measurable impact in your life. Start with one clear goal — then add another, and another.  Take control and be proactive with your time.


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