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The Art of Balance: School, Work, and Family

For many working adults, homework, project timelines, and examinations are arguably only a third of their activities. As a past online student, I know firsthand that it can be challenging to transition from family and work only, to family, work, and school. It is especially harder for online students who must create their own class schedules and adhere to them. Many articles have been written with suggestions and tips to “perfect” the balance between family, work, and school. Here are a few effective tips to get you on your way to a great work-school-family balance.

Getting Organized

The key to finding this balance is organization. Keep a detailed calendar to record all your activities and obligations. You can use the calendar in Microsoft Outlook, smart phone calendar, or download a yearly planner from the internet. Schedule all your school and family activities. Update your planner frequently. For each semester, update your calendar with the new class schedule. This should include your weekly study times, tests, quizzes, and other school activities. In completing the planner, your family will be aware of your availability. Having a planner will help you prioritize the various activities and exercise good time management. Further, consider this adage, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

Communicating with Relatives and Friends

As you embark on this exciting journey, communicate with your family and friends concerning the new demands that school will place on your time. Ask for their understanding and patience and keep them informed of your progress and accomplishments and celebrate those accomplishments with them. This will help to bridge the gap and turn indifference into appreciation as you take on this new goal.

  • Schedule your family times. For example, my daughter and I had mother-daughter time on Saturday evenings. We would awake early, and complete chores then watch a movie, go for a walk, visit a museum, an art show, or try a new restaurant.

  • My husband worked on Saturdays, so every Sunday afternoon was date night. Plan ½ hour calls to friends and relatives at least every two weeks – a great time to catch up was on my long traffic-laden drives to or from work. Also let family and friends know the best time to contact you.

  • Do not forget to plan your “me time,” that is rest and relaxation for yourself. I usually plan my hair appointments after work on a Wednesday or Thursday when I start feeling the stress of the week. Nothing trumps that feeling of rejuvenation after a manicure, pedicure, and scalp massage. These are the ways I unwind, and it does wonders for my composure.

Taking Breaks During Study

Study in time blocks so that you will have scheduled breaks. Take at least a 15-minute break after every hour of study or 30 minutes after 2 hours of study. Here are a few things you can do to help you recharge.

  • A simple walk around your neighborhood, some stretches, or a quick exercise routine. Online learners may face even more challenges with family interruptions; therefore, studying in time blocks will help alleviate these interruptions, as well as neck pains, back pains, and weariness which sometimes slows our intellectual capacity.

  • During my break times, I would sometimes watch a half-hour comedy, talk with my daughter who sometimes gives me ideas to write about, or just lay across the bed to relax my mind. I once did a quick 20 minutes of Zumba – a mixture of latin dances, hip-hop, and line dance blended in a superb exercise routine – to get me pumped and ready to go again.

The Importance of Staying Focused

It is impossible to schedule every activity. There may be family emergencies, added workload, and other events that will occur from time-to-time. These events will delay your studies. Do not get discouraged. When they occur, prepare to re-work your schedule, and come up with new strategies. Focus on the reason you embarked on your course of study.


You can accomplish the goal of balancing the demands of family, work, and school by developing a strategy and committing to it. Eventually, after all the challenges and balancing acts, you will have an immense feeling of pride and joy to have reached your professional aspirations.

Paula Hamilton

Copy Editor and Contributor



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