Work-Life-School Balance: It can be done!
Having always wanted to go to graduate school, two years ago, I decided to take the plunge. While this was something I had long dreamt about, I wasn’t willing to forego the career growth I could miss out on by going back to school. So, instead, I opted to do both: pursue a Master’s in Economic Behavior while continuing working for AppLovin. I accomplished both of these things — at the same time. In a given week, I could be writing a paper on microeconometrics or attending lectures on macroeconomics, while also putting in an average of 30 hours helping our partners achieve their goals and grow their campaigns. At AppLovin, there’s a lot of emphasis on work-life balance, but in my case, I needed to develop work-life-school balance. Here are my suggestions for how to go to school full-time, work, and have a life!
Remember what you’re doing it for.
It may sound obvious, but understanding your motivation for what you are doing is the key to success and happiness down the road. Taking on a job and school concurrently can be overwhelming, so it’s important to keep your focus on what drives you and how each endeavour will contribute to your professional development and personal happiness in the future.
Set goals and prioritize.
Goal-setting is a good way to gauge your progress and keep yourself on track. Set realistic, achievable goals for school and for work. Determine which aspects of both school and work will help you achieve these goals, and focus on those. For instance, if you are working on a particularly interesting or important project at work, you may decide to cut down on your class load for the semester or quarter. Conversely, in the middle of exam week, for example, you may need to communicate to your employer that your focus is on school for the next few days.
Organization is the key to staying on top of things. Make to-do lists and budget your time wisely. Setting weekly goals is a great help, especially for big projects that will take longer to complete. Make use of utility apps to keep track of everything you need to get done (Google Calendar is a life saver); more complex task managing apps like Basecamp are great if you’re working with a group on a school project. You may find that apps help you to avoid having to mentally juggle work and school. And on that note, switching tasks every once in a while is also helpful. It allows you stay your focus and avoid finding yourself depleted by working on the same thing for too long. Make sure not to switch from one task to another too frequently though — doing so can significantly decrease efficiency and increase mental strain.
Be realistic and seek support.
Building out strong social support is possibly one of the biggest favors you can do yourself. Make sure to have good friends at both work and school — they are the ones who will keep you sane through the tough times. That being said, there are periods of time where balancing work, school, and social life might not be possible, so know when you have to sacrifice one aspect (or two). When this happens, it is crucial to communicate with your instructors and your employers — this is part of seeking support. If they are aware that your plate is full, there is less of a chance of tasks and projects going by the wayside.
Stay positive and active.
Tasks you work on won’t necessarily be fun and exciting all the time. Get used to finding interesting and positive aspects of anything you do — this will keep you happier overall. On the subject of staying happy, I can’t stress enough the importance of finding time to get some exercise. After all, healthy body = healthy mind.
Remember that you will need some time to slow down and relax. Do not expect that you can keep up with a very dense work and school schedule with no down time. Accept the fact that only so many hours per day can be used efficiently and plan your workload accordingly. You can close doors by overcommitting just as well as you can by underutilizing opportunities. It’s all well and good to fill up your plate, but you need to make sure you can deliver on the things you commit to, so avoid spreading yourself too thin. And while at it, don’t forget to have a little fun and keep an open mind. Be spontaneous — take that last minute weekend trip (when your workload allows it).
Taking on a career, a full class load, and maintaining a social life is difficult, and it’s important to remember that at times it may not be possible to keep up with all three at once. But with some extra effort and organization skills, it is possible to succeed in school while working and vice versa. Prioritize your obligations in order to keep your goals achievable. Check in with yourself — taking care of your body and your mind will make all the difference in maintaining a work-life-school balance.