Managing Time for the Caring of Others and Ourselves
Finding time to balance the needs of self-care, family and work is the most challenging demand of the modern workplace, particularly in higher education. Faculty, administrators and staff are involved in highly engaging work that can span 24/7, especially during the academic school year.
The demands on time and energy are both physical and emotional. At home, caring for young children or frail elders can add to your stress, so that the mere thought of meeting all demands can be overwhelming, if not downright frightening. Yet, continuous work and caregiving without proper rest and renewal can be counterproductive to your overall health and success.
Highly engaged people want to be successful in all realms of their lives, but how do you make it all work?
Finding Time for Dependent Care and Your Work-Life Balance
Imagine that you are the scheduling manager of a small unit of work and family and then list out all of your obligations and care needs for the week. Write everything on a master calendar (e.g. duration of activity, location) and then consider who might you recruit to oversee some of these tasks. For example, might your spouse/partner cook the evening meal and watch the kids while you go for a quick run? Might your elderly mother spend the day at an adult day center so that you can focus without worry on work? Planning and recruiting assistance in an organized, thoughtful way will alleviate the emotional and physical burden that you carry when you assume you have to do everything. It also allows you to schedule time for self-care without guilt and creates opportunities for meaningful relationships and community by involving others in your daily life.
Including Your Family and Friends
People want to help but need direction! Schedule needs and assign helpers on shared calendars (Google, Outlook) or utilize specialized care calendar websites such as Lots of Helping Hands to give instruction. As multi-dimensional beings, we need work, family, friends and community to feel whole. Thoughtful planning will ensure that we successfully meet our care obligations while kindly caring for ourselves in the process.
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Robynn M. Pease, Ph.D. has over 20 years of related experience in the field of work-life and is the former director of the Greater Oregon Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (GO HERC). Prior to her current position as Faculty Ombudsman at Oregon State University (OSU), Robynn served as the Coordinator of Work-Life at OSU and the Director of Work-Life at the University of Kentucky. She holds a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Kentucky, with an emphasis in gerontology.