During my time in student affairs, one of the biggest issues is the topic of “busyness.” The culture of being overworked, endless to-do lists, and the 24/7 work life are not healthy work/life styles. The issue of always “being on” while dealing with stressful leadership styles can lead to issues for graduates and professionals within the field. As much as it’s important to always stay goal-minded, it’s not worth your mental health taking a critical hit. It’s important to take a step back and practice self-care to provide positive living within your role.
Although “busy culture” is not healthy for student affairs, I wanted to write about the benefits to a balanced life for SA members that still fall into the “busy” work style. As a proud worker-bee, I wanted to share ways that a busy culture can be a good thing within student affairs and a positive method for helping student affairs professionals and graduates be successful. Here are some examples of my effort to turn the image of busy culture to productivity within student affairs:
Productive > Busy
As a type A person, I’m guilty of using busyness as a form of working hard within the office. Even though busy culture isn’t the best style of working, I’ve been used to the go-getter lifestyle of leadership to make sure tasks are completed. From highlighting my to-do list to planing weeks ahead, one of the biggest lessons that helped my SA Grad experience was being productive versus busy. Productivity allows the energy I use to be towards something important at that moment rather than the moment itself.
The issue of busy culture is the idea of acting to make something rather than making a difference. Some examples to limit the stress of busyness within our roles is making sure to treat our self-care as serious as our work. The balance between working and relaxation should always be equally respected during all times of the year.
As a Residence Director, focusing on productivity versus busyness helped when I found myself working too much in the office. As a budding SA Pro, here are some of the tips that helped me stay productive and healthy:
Make sure to take lunch outside of your office
Don’t reply to emails when you are out (vacation, office, meeting)
Tell yourself it’s ok if your to-do list item moves to tomorrow
Work to meet deadlines early
Take Your Vacation Days
Use Your 5 W’s
What Are The Benefits Of Doing This Task Now?
Why Does This Task Need To Be Completed?
What Are The Risk Of Doing This Tasks At This Time?
Will I Be Able To Handle It All?
What Do I Need To Do?
It’s Ok To Be A Hard Worker (With Balance)
As a person who loves to start projects early, I want you to know it’s ok to let your work ethic shine. Productivity is important within our positions to be the best for our students and ourselves. Productivity can often be mistaken for busyness. Despite the negative views of “busy culture”, if you are able to use your work style to get tasks done while taking care of yourself, don’t be afraid to be excited for work. Working on various projects, events, and ideas can be a fun way to release stress for people in our field.
Remember that one person’s busy can differ from another’s. As long as they have a healthy balance in their work style, it’s acceptable. Fellow Type A and work-first people may face negativity for their work-style because they release stress and enjoy a high productive atmosphere despite using a work life balance.
Busy Isn’t Always Bad
Remember to be proud of your work style and understand that your mental health is important to your position. Accept when you need to take a break and step back from your email when you are out of the office. As long as your passion for helping students is your motivator, you’re doing great and are important to the field. As long as your “busy” is healthy, positive, and balanced, be proud of your work. Remember what makes you enjoy your passions within student affairs.
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