Have you ever watched a high-wire act, like Cirque Du Soleil or that Walinda guy who walked across the Grand Canyon on live TV? These days, finding a work/life balance can seem just as daunting as walking across a high-wire. Now throw in being a nurse and going back to school to earn your BSN and you may think a work/life/school balance is just plain crazy talk.
But here's the thing - balance is possible but it takes work and practice to get it down. Below are a few tips on how to balance work/life while pursuing your bachelor's degree.
- Schedule downtime.
When you plan out your week and everything you have going on, make sure to include downtime in your schedule. If it's an outing with your friends or movie night with your partner, put it in your smart phone or write it on your calendar so you a) have something to look forward to and b) have extra incentive to manage your time so you can make it.
Bottom-line, it helps to be proactive about scheduling especially when it comes to downtime.
- Find a mentor or role model that 'gets it.'
Remember that you are not the first person to juggle work/life/school. The beautiful thing about that fact is it means there are people in your life right now that 'get it' and are incredible resources to help you find balance. Do you work with a nurse who has their BSN? Grab a cup of coffee together and find out how they made it work. They will have good advice on the dos and don'ts, time management and setting priorities. And remember that you can pay it forward one day by being the role model and mentor to an RN looking at taking on a BSN.
- Rethink your errands.
A nurse that was getting her BSN had one major complaint --it had nothing to do with school, work or her family. It was grocery shopping. She never had time to get to the store and was always ordering out or making multiple trips during the week. Thank goodness for the Internet -she found an online grocery delivery service and was able to meal plan/grocery shop from the comfort of her living room.
The lesson? Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands. Maybe the neighbor kid down the street can cut the grass. Map out the nearest drive through pharmacy and dry cleaner. You can even order your stamps online. Rethinking your errands will help simplify otherwise time consuming activities and hopefully bring about more balance.
- Get up and get moving.
We get it. It's hard to make time to exercise when you have a crazy, busy schedule. Here's the thing. Even a little bit of exercise --a brisk walk during lunch, a few times up and down the stairs -- may actually help you get more done by boosting your energy and ability to focus.
In fact, a recent study showed that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make people feel energized than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine–about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda. Seriously, give yourself 10 minutes of walking a day and you'll see a difference in how you feel and how alert you are.
- A little relaxation goes a long way.
Have you heard the ol' "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." adage? The message works for relaxation. Don't assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Set realistic goals, like leaving work at a reasonable time one night per week or setting your phone/iPad down a few hours before you go to bed. Even during a hectic day, you can give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries like listening to music, watching your favorite sports team or taking a bath. You have to make a little time for the things in your life that give you joy.
Figuring out and maintaining a healthy work/life balance while pursuing your BSN can be a challenge. Cut yourself some slack and know that you are not alone balancing on that high-wire. The struggle for balance is a common story for nurses, but one that gets better throughout your professional journey.