The Things I Have Learnt About Work-Life Balance

Do you struggle maintaining a work life balance? Has isolation made it even harder? This blog gives you tips on how to maintain your work motivation whilst still having a social life and looking after your wellbeing.

My name is Rosie Cleere and I am a graduate entry medical student. In doing a second degree I have been given the holy grail of university experiences…the do-over! In many ways I really struggled with my first undergraduate degree. I struggled with picking the wrong subject, picking the wrong friends and generally struggling to understand who I was and what I wanted. In true Dolly Alderton style, I will be sharing the lessons I have learnt, and am still learning, so that you don’t have to do it the hard way.

So, what have I learnt about the immortal struggle that is the work/life balance? That it is a challenge but one that is very worth working for. In reality, we are juggling friendships, relationship, work, studying, money, housework, exercise, enjoying life… the list goes on. The truth is that this can feel overwhelming and practically impossible on the best of days, particularly in this time of COVID-19 where our home has suddenly become our workspace and our normal social activities are on hold.  However, it is not all bad news. I have a few tips that may help you get one step closer to, in the words of Bear Grylls, thriving not surviving at university.

Lesson One – Get Planning

The Things I Have Learnt About Work-Life Balance
My diary that I couldn’t do without

We have all had timetabling drilled into us since primary school but we either ignore it or have abandoned it by the second day. But incredibly…it does work! My tip is to buy a written planner that fulfils all the Instagram aesthetics you have always hoped for. This nice new bit of stationary allows you to view your week and plan out what you want to achieve each day. I sit with a coffee and write a highlight for each day (the main thing I want to achieve), a gratitude (what I feel grateful for that day) and then a to-do list. Try to keep it flexible and don’t squeeze too much into a day as you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, focus on bite-size chunks and put even the simplest things on your to-do list. This way you get the extra reward of ticking off your list as the day goes on and, even on a less productive day, you can tick off your lunch and feel proud. Remember, even basic bits of self-care are achievements so give yourself credit where it’s due.

Lesson Two – Make Work Fun

The Things I Have Learnt About Work-Life Balance

In non-Covid times this would be far simpler. Meeting your friends for pizza and revision sessions or going to your local café to study. However, thanks to softwares like Zoom, Skype and Teams your friends are still around. Why not each prepare a study session and then present it on a group call? Afterwards you can have a group game of Psych or Evil Apples. It’s so important to keep in contact with one another at this time, so studying together will break up your day and sort out both work and life in one go.

Lesson Three – Please Yourself

The Things I Have Learnt About Work-Life Balance
The things that have been making me happy during isolation

University is a breeding ground for peer pressure and social anxiety. I am not ashamed to say that I spent far too many hours of my life worrying about what people thought. The honest truth was that, for me, this left me with empty ‘friendships’ and a sense that I wasn’t good enough. As soon as I stopped caring what others thought and stayed true to myself, I suddenly got some amazing friends and started to feel more comfortable in my own skin. There is a lot of pressure to become fit, learn a new language or fully transform yourself during isolation. However, part of making a work/life balance work is ensuring that the life part really makes you happy. So just do what feels right for you this isolation period.

Lesson Four – Get Help

The Things I Have Learnt About Work-Life Balance

I think this is my most important lesson. Juggling all of these things alone is nearly impossible, and many hands make light work. The university has incredible student support services that can be fine-tuned to you at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile, friends, family and tutors are all there to help you vent and blow off some steam. Once I started accepting help and leaning on those around me, I started to enjoy university life a lot more and found I had the space to help others in return. You never know what help is out there so please ask, it could be life changing.

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