Work Life Integration When Balancing Isn’t Realistic

Most of my readers know that I work in education — and my current job fully embodies the wackiness that comes along with a career in student affairs. From a constantly changing schedule to abnormal hours due to student programs, my work days constantly look different.

A year ago, the idea of this would have probably stressed me out. I got used to having a fixed schedule. I would go to the gym before work or after work and I’d come up with a set schedule to be repeated on a weekly basis.

Now, there are days where my first meeting of the day starts at 10 am and my last event cleans up at 11 pm. Tis Life. Of course when this happens 5 days a week (it technically doesn’t) life can get a little out of control. In realizing this, I’ve come to find that it’s not so much about balancing my days anymore. I would be bending my life backwards if I worked 12 hours and tried to find a way to “balance” myself. It doesn’t help that I’ve never been that good at balancing things; I learned how to ride a bike in college.

It turns out that this dynamic nature of my job hours have really forced me to think about what work life balance meant to me. And to rethink of it as integration. Working in an environment where my schedule is constantly shifting has taught me about fitting pieces of my life into my role. This has helped me really critically look at every hour I have free in my schedule.

It helps that my office is about a 1 minute walk from one of the weight rooms/locker rooms on campus, I’m just that lucky. I’ll usually start drinking my pre-workout half an hour before my gym hour, typically mid-meeting, and then I disappear for an hour mid day when I don’t have meetings to escape, run to the gym, work out for 30 minutes, shower, and go back to work. This does mean that I have to skimp a little on my cardio and be efficient when I’m lifting but it forces me to be focused.

On the weekends where I don’t work and mornings/evenings that I now have free (and am trying to figure out what to do with) I make an excuse to do some cardio wherever I can. It also helps that I live across the street from Mission Bay, and I can literally run (lets be real, speed walk) along the water.

Thinking about work-life integration has challenged me to look at free hours in between my day and figure out where I can squeeze in a little me-time. I’ve found myself more energized and focused after the gym, and am better able to serve my students. Talk about a plus!

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