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Time Management

Work-life balance is not something you achieve once and never have to think about again—instead, work-life balance is a cycle that requires constant awareness and the use of healthy practices to make sure you can enjoy your professional and personal life.

Describing work-life balance as a cycle acknowledges that your priorities will change over time, and that balance requires shifting your energy between different priorities depending on all the factors affecting your life.

Learning how to have good work-life balance requires sustained action, self-awareness, and prioritizing our well-being across different categories.

Take a look at the chart below, and we'll talk about the work-life balance cycle in more depth.

Work-life balance cycle chart.

Stages of the Work-Life Balance Cycle

The Work-Life Balance Cycle includes 4 key stages:

  • Defining your purpose, goals, and needs,
  • Prioritizing tasks to help you reach your goals,
  • Managing your time and making a schedule based on your priorities, and
  • Reassessing your plans to make sure your life is still in balance.

Striving for balance also means accepting that there's no perfect balance—unexpected events or temporary shifts in your priorities means you will need to adjust your work-life balance to accommodate those changes.

For example, if you get sick the week before a major assignment is due, your work-life balance will need to shift so you can focus on your health—this might involve reaching out to your professor to ask for an extension, missing class time, finding a colleague to cover your shifts at work, calling a friend to help with grocery shopping, etc.

Striving for a realistic schedule that allows you to be flexible—and encourages you to re-assess your progress regularly—will help you manage your time and accept setbacks in a more productive way.

Check out the boxes below for some ideas of the kinds of questions you should ask yourself during each stage of the Work-Life Balance Cycle.

If this is the first time you're setting goals or thinking about your purpose, check out the sections on Goals vs. Goal Setting for more information, or try setting your own SMART Goals this term!

If you've set your goals, then ask yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve this term?
  • What motivates me to do well in school?
  • What are my personal values? Have I been living up to those values recently?
  • What other activities have I wanted to try out at Sheridan—how can I create new experiences this term?
  • How can I make a difference in my classroom, or home, at work, or in the community?

Once you have an idea of your purpose and goals for this term, you can start prioritizing where to put your energy to help accomplish them. Check out our section on Prioritizing if you need help figuring out where to start.

You can also ask yourself:

  • Which goals will take the most time for me to complete?
  • Is there anyone around me who could help me achieve this goal, and do they have the energy to help me at this time?
  • What's been causing me stress, unbalance, or dissatisfaction recently? Is this stress related to having too much happening at once, is it caused by not completing previous goals, etc.?
  • How are my current circumstances affecting how I perform at school (or at work, or elsewhere in my life)? Do I need to create space in my schedule to change my circumstance in some way?
  • What am I willing sacrifice or give less energy to so I can achieve my goals this term, and for how long?

Managing your time means managing your energy—ideally, you should be putting more of your energy into the tasks you've prioritized so you can achieve the goals you've set this term.

Managing your time also means paying attention to your emotions and responding to them throughout the term.

You could ask yourself:

  • Where do I feel energized, fulfilled, and satisfied with my current schedule? What I am doing (or not doing) during those times?
  • Where do I feel angry, resentful, or sad with my current schedule? What I am doing (or not doing) during those times?
  • Has anything unexpected happened this term that has required more of my energy? How might it change my plans?
  • Where are my sources of stress coming from right now? What's the root cause of this stress, and how can I respond to it?
  • What regrets do I have with my current schedule, and what will I regret if I continue along my current path?

The Work-Life Balance is a cycle that requires regular check-ins with yourself and your progress on your goals. If your goals change during the term, or your priorities suddenly shift, or your ability to manage your time slips—you can always change your path and get yourself back on track.

Some questions to help you re-assess your work-life balance include:

  • How much closer am I to reaching the goals I set this term?
  • What's helped me reach my goals, and what's made it more challenging?
  • Do my priorities and my schedule still match each other? Where do I need to make changes?
  • Am I neglecting some areas of my life too much right now? Can I move some energy from one area back to different area?

Rememeber, if you’re having difficulties managing stress, adjusting to college, or feeling sad and hopeless, please reach out to the Counselling Services team on Sheridan Central. Sessions are free and confidential.