Clarity for Aspirational Women in Business & Life Transitions.

Work, School, Family: More of a Dance Than a Perfect Balance

09.1.10

Career

I currently work, go to school for my Masters degree and have a 2 ½ year old daughter.  Many have successfully accomplished keeping each of these important commitments in order.  However, it is more like mastering a dance than achieving a perfect balance.

I’ll be describing a tool that has worked to keep my assignments and papers under control.

First of all, if you think that you can do everything over the weekend and be just as efficient as if you were splitting up tasks over the week, you’re mistaken.  You may jeopardize your grades.

In fact, by working long stretches of time over the weekend, you will become less efficient, more ineffective, and you will try to get stuff done just to get it done and not to get it done right. Sound familiar?

So what are you supposed to do and how do you save time on the weekends for family and household tasks?  By Chunking.

A chunk of time is a short span of time (like 15-30 mins) and can be found anywhere during the weekday, weekend, whenever.  Use chunks of time to do chunkable tasks.

Chunkable tasks are things that:

  • take up only 15-30 minute blocks of time such as reading sections in your textbook that have already been subdivided for you;
  • writing short sections for short papers and discussion boards;
  • solving a few problems in a problem set when it doesn’t have to be done all at the same time.

Now, what does this leave for the weekends?

On the weekends you should do tasks that reward long uninterrupted spans of time.

Things like:

  • reading information that has to be read all at once;
  • project and problem solving that should be done in long spans of time;
  • writing longer papers that require sustained effort.
  • Meeting with your study groups to go over what you have accomplished during the work week.

In Summary to save your weekends:

  1. Realize that you cannot do all of your work over the weekend.
  2. Use the process of chunking to put more of your assignments into the work week.
  3. And finally, reserve for the weekend those tasks that reward long and sustained effort.

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