How to balance online college, with work, family and other activities and responsibilities

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I never imagined I was going to do an online course, being a young wife and a mother to a three-year-old daughter. But when I wanted to take an online course to obtain a degree in criminal justice from Penn Foster, I spoke to my husband about it, and he urged me to go ahead with it, as he thought it was a brilliant idea. It’s been three months of my degree and it’s proven to be a tough balance between my education, my job and my home. I serve as a paralegal at the law firm of Gibson Dunn. For five days a week, I wake up at 5 a.m. prepare myself for work, make breakfast, and then prepare my daughter Ivy for daycare. I leave the house by 6:30 a.m. so that I can drop Ivy at the daycare by 7 a.m. and still be able to make it to work by 8 a.m. My job is very broad as I am there to support lawyers in whatever that they might need. I usually do research, write legal documents, fact-check, and correspond with clients or the court. With all the responsibilities that I have my day is usually too busy that I do not even remember I have a break in between. By the time I realize I have not even had lunch, it is already 4:00 pm time to pick up Ivy from the daycare and do grocery shopping then head home. My workday responsibility is done, but when I get home, it feels as though my day has just started. I start by cleaning up the house, and then I prepare dinner so that it is ready by 7:30 pm. My husband usually gets home at around 8:00 pm when am getting Ivy ready for bed. I serve him the food and as he eats I finish cleaning up the kitchen. By the time am done with my chores it is already 10:00pm leaving me with only 2 hours of quiet study time. My degree requires a lot of reading and attention, the two hours I get are never enough and am always left feeling exhausted when I lay down to sleep.

The pressure of balancing these three responsibilities made me have the need and urge to find a way to balance them all and ask for help especially with the responsibilities at home and create a destruction-free study area. First of all, I created a flexible schedule whereby I got a calendar and wrote down what my tasks were for each day and when I achieved a task I checked it off with a pen. The schedule kept me organized and ready for my duties. Since my time is usually busy, I at times have trouble keeping track of my schedule which led me to purchase a daily planner. With the director, I fixed my appointments, my duties, class hours and work times. By using the planner, I can be time conscious whereby I figured out the times I am free. But I still would not manage efficiently without the help of my husband. I sat him down and explained to him my difficulty in balancing my work, studies, and family time, I then shared with him the ideas I had in sharing the duties at home. To my surprise, he agreed and even noted that he felt I was struggling a lot. Together we decided that he would be picking up Ivy three days a week while I do the other two days. We then agreed that we would be helping each other with the chores at home, he will cook three times a week, twice in the week we order take out while I cook the other remaining days. We did grocery shopping for the whole week every Sunday evening. Finally, I converted one of the extra bedrooms into an office where I put all my study materials. With the support I was getting, I had an extra two hours of study making the total to 4. While I study I usually switch off my phone and stay away from social media to avoid destructions. Before I came with a schedule and planner, I was always tired and confused. But now I have ample time for studies and family which makes me feel relaxed and able to achieve my goals.

PART 2

Introduction

Many are finding it difficult to balance our work, studies, and family. To be successful in these three areas, we should be ready to make personal sacrifices. Fortunately, if one develops a proper plan and gets the extra support that is needed balance is readily achievable like in my case the support from my husband helped me in finding my balance. In this assignment, I will discuss the methods that I used which helped me better manage my time and create a balance. The methods I used include creating a flexible schedule, purchasing a daily planner, creating a study sanctuary, and getting support from my spouse. By using these four methods, I was able to efficiently create more free time that went into my studies and family. I was also able to master the art of effective time management. Each method is explained below on how I applied it in my day to day life.

Creating a flexible schedule

To kick off my plan of developing balance in my studies, work, and family I started by creating a flexible schedule. For the creation of my flexible schedule, I first purchased a calendar in which I wrote down everything that I am to accomplish each day from the time from morning to evening. The essence of getting the schedule was to ensure that I remained organized and I do not forget the tasks that I am to accomplish throughout the day. With every task that I achieve, I usually check it out with a pen in the calendar.

Purchasing a daily planner

After creating my schedule on what I needed to accomplish each day I noticed there were times it was difficult to keeping track of it, so I decided to get a daily planner to help me stay on track. The daily planner is especially useful when a person has a lot of appointments that involve work and family obligations. I fixed all dates, work hours, study times, and my family responsibilities in the daily planner. Doing this ensured that I followed my schedule, be time conscious, and meet deadlines efficiently. As a paralegal, my day is usually filled with a lot of work and appointments, so the daily planner helped me in planning myself and keeping me up to date.

Gaining support from loved ones

With the creation of a flexible schedule and a director to aid in ensuring that I do not lose sight of my goals balance was being achieved but not completely. To be able to reach balance altogether I sought help from my husband. I first shared with him my schedule and the plans that I had then I explained to him how he was to help me achieve them. He would give me a hand in the house duties and pick up our daughter from daycare, through this his support and sharing of tasks at home I was able to get two more hours of study time. This also ensured that my weekends were free to have family time because my study time during the week was efficient.

Creating a study sanctuary

My final step to creating balance was developing a study sanctuary that was destruction free and comfortable to study in during the night. To create a study sanctuary I changed the extra bedroom we had into an office where I organized all my study materials and ensured I had everything needed plus adequate lighting. With the extra hours on my hand my husband putting Ivy to sleep I studied peacefully and with no interruptions. I then ensure that I stay away from social media and switch off my phone while studying.

Conclusion

Studying, working, and taking care of the family at the same time can be very tiring and frustrating especially when one does not have a proper plan or support from family members. These three occupations are very demanding so it is important that when one sets out to do all of them they should have a clear plan on how they will manage them and most of all seek for help and support from loved ones. I can clearly state that before I decided to create balance by planning in advance and getting help from my husband my days were always stressful and I was always fatigued. But ever since I chose to manage my time effectively am much happier and more relaxed.

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