Kate Schulz is a mother of two young girls (2 ¾ years old and 9 months old) whom have joined her throughout her U of A MLIS journey. Now in her final semester, she is looking forward to commencing her LIS career in the new year, and is hoping to find work with a public or private corporation in records management. In her spare time, Kate enjoys spending time in the Rocky Mountains with her family, advocating for pit bulls, and reading historical fiction and dystopian novels.
In this article, Kate shares advice for maintaining work/life balance.
One of the benefits of the online MLIS program at the University of Alberta is that courses are offered asynchronously. This was a major selling point for me when I first started looking into graduate programs and I’m sure this was a pro on others’ pro-con lists, as well.
For me, this meant that I could continue to stay at home with my then-infant daughter while working towards my master’s degree at the same time. But, being a new mom also makes the need for maintaining work life balance all the more important. I have found my online university experience to be very positive and has allowed for me to maintain that balance.
Online education opportunities are rapidly increasing and being developed; it is becoming one of the most popular higher education alternatives (Open Education Database, n.d.). While early objectors of online learning believed that online study equates to lower academic performance, Kemp and Grieve (2014) found no difference in performance between students in online courses versus traditional classroom courses.
Comparable academic performance aside, maintaining work life balance is essential no matter which way you decide to complete your studies. So, here are some tips that have helped me over the past two years:
1. Determine what time of day you work most effectively.
With an infant at home, I took advantage of nap times and waking up (really) early in the morning to get my readings and assignments completed. Maybe you’re more the late nights and coffee drinking-type (don’t get me wrong, I drink a lot of coffee, too!) Whichever type you are, carve some time out in your schedule to dedicate to school.
2. Accept help when it’s offered.
It was a huge help to me when family members would offer to watch my daughter for a few hours so I could focus during assignment crunch time. Friend or family offer to make you dinner? Someone wants to bring you coffee? Take your dog for a walk? Say please and thank you and make good use of the extra time.
3. Take time to do something for yourself.
Just because someone has offered to help you out, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to step back and take a break. If you enjoy cooking, make your favourite comfort dish. Take your dog to the park and throw a ball around. Read a book for fun, not study. Listen to what your body is telling you and know when you need a breather.
Get your heart pumping and release some endorphins. That FRBR model or Access database you’ve been working on might make more sense after you step away for 30 minutes.
5. Eat healthy.
I’m guilty of the unhealthy treats and snacks while studying, but I also know that I do a lot better if I stop to eat a proper meal. Feed yourself well to power your genius LIS brain.
6. Lean on others for support.
Sometimes, you just need to vent. Whether that be to a family member, spouse, friend, your fur baby, or even others in your cohort, I have personally found this to be helpful and it can provide you with a fresh and different perspective.
Kemp, N., & Grieve, R. (2014). Face-to-face or face-to-screen? Undergraduates’ opinions and test performance in classroom vs. online learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01278
Open Education Database. (n.d.). 10 advantages to taking online courses [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/10-advantages-to-taking-online-classes