By Kailah Peters (K.P.)
Any college student can tell you the struggles of juggling school work, self-care, and a social life. It feels like you can only ever have two, but you are always striving for the beauty of all three. Unfortunately, this doesn’t get easier with age. Many professionals can tell you about the struggles to achieve and maintain a good work-life balance. I spoke with Shantae Howell, partner manager at Facebook and DePaul alum, about her thoughts and experience with this all to common struggle.
How do you define work-life balance?
There are times when I’ve overextended myself and felt fulfilled at the moment, but felt periods of burnout after. Now, work-life balance for me is what people call work-life integration. It’s about knowing when you need to push yourself to do more, and knowing when to scale back and take the time to self-care.
Why do you find work-life balance important?
I think it’s really important when you are trying to figure out what you want to do. When your work life balance is off, some of the frustration you may feel could be unrelated to the work. So, you could have a skewed view of what you like to do. When you have work-life balance you do things better. My most productive days are when I say ‘I’m going in at 8, taking my lunch break and going home at 5’ rather than when I go in from 8-6 and don’t take a break. It lets me be more focused and organized.
As a partner manager at Facebook, or any other PR job, do you find it difficult to achieve work-life balance?
Yeah, that can be something that is hard to achieve. Especially at the beginning of your career, it can be difficult to set those boundaries with managers, and people you are trying to impress. Setting those expectations of how you like to be managed, setting boundaries, and making sure you are communicating other things on your plate can be beneficial to making ensuring you are getting everything done to the best of your abilities and within a set timeframe.
What are your tips to improve work-life balance?
It goes back to you communicating expectations. I’ll give an example. At one of my last internships, Wilson’s Sporting Goods, I had some really good experiences. At Wilson’s Sporting Goods I had a lot of great opportunities to travel, but I did have to communicate that I’m still in school and working at nights so I may not be able to travel all the time. Setting that expectation allowed them to tailor the tips of projects they were giving me, and the deadlines they were giving me
How can you tell if you’ve achieved work-life balance?
Your work-life balance will affect if you can feel fulfilled in your career. With work-life balance, you’ll leave work at the end of the day feeling good about what you’ve accomplished. You’ll come home and feel relaxed, and ready to unwind. You know you need to get back on track when you are missing the things that make you happy. When you know you have standing happy hour reservations with your best friend, but you keep pushing them back. When you normally go to your mom’s house for dinner on Fridays and you aren’t making those anymore because of work. Make sure you have indicators of things that are important to you in your life, and not letting go of those things because of the job.