Guest Blogger: Brent Scholar
The idea of work life balance (WLB) is not a new topic, so I am not going to focus on what it is, and what the experts say in this discussion. What I want to focus on is what we can do as adjunct faculty to maintain our WLB, which is a focus between our non-work life, our full time work, and our adjunct faculty work. My colleague, Jones Loflin, discusses getting things done, by looking at the three rings of our personal circus: work, relationships, and self-time, and how we can get things done (Loflin and Musig, 2005). I want to take us through our rings a little differently, in terms of what keeps my stress at a minimum, triathlon.
Swim, bike, run is my medicine for keeping all my lives in order and on track since it keeps me physically fit so I can get work done, spend time with family and friends, and ensure a healthy lifestyle so I can be here longer. However, when we add another job of the adjunct faculty member it takes a little extra work to keep everything in order.
A triathlon starts off with a swim. The swim can be one of the most fearful aspects of the event since it is technical, and requires us to cut off our air supply. This represents our non-work life, since this is the part of our life which usually gets left behind. When we do not take the time for ourselves we will not be able to be there for the others; it is like cutting off our air supply. Without the air supply we cannot give life to our full time work or our students. This means we need to work at giving ourselves the time to rejuvenate. Learning the proper swim technique aids the triathlete to start off the event in an efficient manner so there is more in the engine to get some hard work done later. When planning the week make certain to schedule your time to rejuvenate, to spend time with family, and to spend time with friends so you do not cut off your air supply for work success. One way to do this is getting up earlier. This is what I do so I get the me time I need. I then schedule my work, as a consultant and adjunct, during light hours, so when my wife comes home at night we can spend our time together.
The next stage in the triathlon is the bike. This is the most mechanical of the disciplines, since there is a machine underneath us. This is our full time job. This is what we do most of our waking days, since in triathlon, we spend the most time, the most miles, on the bike. In our full time job we need to balance the work, the people, our own development, which equates to, balancing on two wheels, watching the road, and nutrition. It is a difficult task, but one which can be fulfilling when we are doing what we love; if it is not then go find it. If it is, then make sure to schedule the most important items in your calendar first, after your swim (self-time). Our lives are usually judged and won in our full time job, and this is true on the bike too. If one does not fuel on the bike properly then there is no energy for the run, or in our case adjunct work. Our full time work needs to fuel our adjunct work. It needs to give us the knowledge and the experience to share with our students -- real life.
In our long days we finally, get to the run and have to demonstrate our perseverance in doing our best to the end. This is our work as adjuncts. Often times it is the last thing we do in the day, and we need to still give it our all, so we can prepare the future for what they have ahead of them. If we “bonk” (run out of energy) when we are doing our adjunct work, we will not give it our all and the students will suffer, by not giving them the attention they deserve. On the run it is easy to literally run out of steam and sometimes have to walk or even crawl to the finish. We owe our students more than this, so we have to ensure we lead through the swim and the bike to not run out of steam. Having this little energy for our students, means they will not learn all they need to, in order to be successful. We need to make sure we have some reserves for them and plan our time to support our students to the final podium. This is done easily by making sure we schedule the time to review their work and answer their questions. Just like we have done with gaining our personal energy, and our full time work planning is the key to our success.
Ultimately, we all have our own three ring circus, or triathlon we are trying to conquer, and with the focus on us first so we can then take care of others our WLB has more of a chance of success. Take the time to plan out the what we need most in our lives so we can cross the finish line, and stand a top the winner’s podium.
Loflin, J. & Musig, T. (2005). Juggling for elephants: An easier way to get you most important things done-now! New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Dr. Brent Scholar is an Instructor for the Faculty of Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU. Additionally, Brent has taught on traditional ground and online courses in leadership since 2014 at GCU. He earned his doctorate in Organizational Leadership, and since 2009 is the principle of Scholar Consulting, an organizational leadership and strategy consulting company. Brent’s diverse industry background and experience provides insight into how different organizations lead, evolve, and work towards greater inclusion. Brent has been an education member of Diversity Leadership Alliance bringing together organizations across the valley to learn how to increase awareness and inclusion. In his spare time he trains for triathlons and guides disabled athletes in endurance running events.
Photo: This is after Brent's first Ironman 70.3 event in Santa Cruz, CA on September 11, 2016