Working Backwards

I cannot believe it’s already November. Where has the time gone?! The months continue to pass us by, and sooner rather than later, the semester will be over! This does make me quite nervous as I only have one semester left! Dr. Zamora mentioned “slow by steady,” but I feel as if I need to speed things up! The last thing I want is to be behind in my thesis, and it all comes crashing on me. I haven’t been able to focus too much on reading new articles as I came down with a cold last week (hence the reasoning as to why I did not put out a blog, but I will make that up!). Aside from the cold, I also received my COVID-19 booster. Thankfully, I did not have all of the same symptoms as when I received the second vaccine dose, but I still had a headache and fever. Now that I am getting over my cold, I’ve been focusing on working backward. I’ve been looking at what needs to be accomplished by the end of the semester and working towards that. I would like to begin putting together my Literature Review. I’ve been reading a few articles and jotting down what interests me, but I want to focus on the following items from the Literature Review document that Dr. Zamora provided us:

  • Why is this text on my list? 
  • Do I agree with this viewpoint? Why?
  • Are the methods or approaches used are strong or weak, and why?

Focusing on these specific questions will be beneficial for later in the semester rather than only having bulletin points. I would also like to begin conducting brief interviews to see if there is a correlation or distinction between the geriatric population and today’s generation. This will aid in my research and area of interest of when work-life balance came about and how it correlates with Gender Equity.

Let’s Talk

I left last Wednesday’s class with the task of listening to a few Podcasts and TedTalks regarding work-life balance. While listening, I was tasked to find a few issues that most interest me to narrow down my topic. I was pretty excited to do this as listening to audio files is more exciting than reading through articles. I was able to listen to a few podcasts while getting other work done, such as the loads of laundry that have been calling my name. I’ve listened to a few podcasts, and the one that I left off on was “The Myth of Work-Life Balance,” a podcast by Drift. From the beginning, the title drew my attention along with the statement that “work-life balance does not exist and it’s not a real thing.” Immediately, I asked myself why? Why is work-life balance impossible, and since when did it become impossible? The podcast touched upon prioritization and not following a schedule.

Although I do agree with this, I do not believe that this is the root of the problem. As I continued to listen to various podcasts, they touched upon the same concerns with reaching fulfillment and not balance, too many tasks, etc. Due to this, I reverted back to reading articles. I think I want to focus more on the historical side. It’s given that everyone struggles with work-life balance and the reasons as to why, but I want to focus on how we emerged to this point. The article “Work/Life Balance, Gender Equity and Social Change” touches upon how one of the reasons individuals work longer is to prove that they can. Why would society want to do this? The article then discusses how women were looked down upon going from full-time to part-time as they took care of family. There were policies put into place specifically for women and what women go through; therefore, there is a belief that because these policies were made for them, they should be capable of handling the balance. With this, I am moving closer to wanting to focus on gender equity, labor laws, and the historical aspect.

The In-between

It seems as if a few of my classmates and I are in the same boat. Something about returning to an in-person lifestyle does not seem “normal.” I have been struggling mentally and I am not too sure of the reason. My last blog post showed that I was making progress towards my thesis in regards to beginning my research, but this past week was not a good one. I am always one to stay on top of my tasks and if need by will stay up to ensure everything is completed. Lately, I have not had the motivation to do anything. There are days at work that are exhausting leaving me to shower and sleep the night away only to still wake up exhausted. It’s funny (not really) because the other day I caught myself in bed realizing that I hadn’t eaten dinner. I then proceeded to turn off the light and go to sleep skipping dinner. I definitely relate to Diana when speaking about the laundry build-up. I am at the point where if I still have clean clothes to wear… I’m wearing them until having nothing to wear, but laundry is on my to-do list for this weekend! Speaking of the weekends, I thought last weekend was going to be productive but I was on call and was running sound assisting. This weekend I have to attend Kean’s Homecoming tailgate on Saturday from 12 PM- 4 PM therefore I am looking to get some thesis work completed Friday night. What I envision is doing loads of laundry, cleaning, putting on my diffuser and some music, and getting to work. I would like to continue to dive into researching more about the difference of generations regarding work-life balance as t

The Starting Point

Last week Dr. Zamora discussed the importance of narrowing down exactly what I wanted to focus on regarding my thesis. Work-life balance is a broad topic to cover. It’s no surprise that work-life balance is a factor in an individual’s life that many struggle with. Therefore, I must establish what exactly I am trying to shed light on. Dr. Zamora gave me a few interesting starting points allowing me to think and research about how we got here. When and why did the concept of work-life balance become so huge? From the articles I have read, the work-life balance appears to be successful when one is able to have minimal conflict between work, family, and one’s personal life. This term has been around for years, and certain sites mention the term dating back to the 80s when discussing the Women’s Liberation Movement. Women at that time had begun working but were still expected to uphold their duties as a mother and housekeeper. This begins to interest me and has me thinking if there should be a case study on the geriatric population and today’s generation. Is there a difference in stress levels? With the geriatric population experiencing World War II, were they subject to working longer hours? Does this tie into the Fair Labor Standards Act? 

Without this balance, stress and burnout come about. Did you know that it wasn’t until 2019 when the World Health Organization declared that burnout is an official medical diagnosis? This makes me ask myself, is there really a balance? Perhaps, this is why we now also focus on work-life integration.

Where Is The Balance?

This past week I didn’t get to do as much research as I intended to do for my thesis, but I can say that I began writing. With my thesis focusing on work-life balance, Dr. Zamora suggested that I keep a journal and write about my days. When writing, I am not thinking about my thesis but simply writing what my day consisted of while including timeframes. By doing this, I am able to see what is taking up the majority of my day, if I am balancing my tasks, and most importantly, what I did right and what went wrong, which ties into work-life balance. As you see, this blog post is being posted the day of class, suggesting that there was no balance this week. This leads me into the discussion that was held last week with the prompts. Specifically, the question “Tell me something that life is asking of you during this thesis process” stuck with me. I feel as if my thesis project is really asking me to focus on delegation, just as Dr. Zamora mentioned the thought of  “time-devoted-to-thesis.” If I do not delegate tasks, I will find myself working nonstop. With a very hands-on job during the week, I believe it’ll be best to carve out time Friday nights or Saturday afternoons to devote to my thesis. 

I touched upon it in my previous blog post, but I am certain that I would like to research the employee’s view and the employer’s view of work-life balance. Employers play a significant role in achieving a healthy balance for workers. It’s easy for one to say to create boundaries, but when one receives the notification of a task that needs to be completed with a short turnaround time, it makes it difficult. There are also just not enough hours in the day. Dr. Zamora brought up a good idea to research the difference between cultures. I had the time to briefly Google something, obviously, when I begin my paper, I must ensure the sites and articles I am using are credible, but the United States was not even in the top ten countries for work-life balance.  I am looking forward to researching how work-life balance is measured in different countries and cultures and what we are doing wrong here.

On the Right Track

It is amazing how, without focusing heavily on something, everything will eventually come to you and fall into place. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I haven’t honed in on my thesis topic as much as I should have, but honesty is the best policy. 

This past week has been an interesting one as I recently received a promotion and am now a full-time employer rather than having a graduate assitancship. I don’t think I have been able to sit back and congratulate myself as I have been with my department since my sophomore year of undergrad and have worked my way up. It is exciting, and I am proud of myself, but there are also worries. I have always struggled with saying no and creating a work-life balance if that’s even possible to do so. Living on campus, working on campus, and going to school all in the same location can be exhausting. The worries of not being able to handle the responsibilities that I will have (I know I can handle them, but I am usually always doubting myself), not being confident enough, and not making time for myself have led me to my thesis topic. When writing last week’s blog, I jotted down the idea of work-life balance as only an idea, but recently I have seen how important it is for myself and my staff. Work-life balance is a topic that every job touches upon, but I feel it gets swept under the rug as the months go on with the number of tasks that need to be completed. Truthfully, as the months go on during the academic year, I also see how one can drive themselves crazy without a balance, and I am one of those people. What does it mean to have a work-life balance, how does one create one, what factors play a negative role in creating a balance, what is the difference between employer’s and employee’s perception of work-life balance? These are all questions that have come to my mind and may appear in my thesis paper or at least get me started. 

I am excited to have found a topic I am interested in, but completing my thesis on this topic will also benefit me personally and professionally as well. It’s a win-win situation as I get to continue learning while conducting my research! Cheers to finding a topic and receiving a promotion!

Remaining Optimistic

As I enter my second year of graduate school, I sit back and reflect on all of my years of schooling. I have always had an interest in school, and furthering my education was never a question, but it is astonishing to think I have made it this far. Making this last year meaningful and putting my best work forward is significant as, at this time, I do not see myself receiving any degree higher than my master’s. With this, putting my best work forwards means managing my time and prioritizing. Attending school and working will be challenging, but course prioritization is needed with enrolling in a thesis course. 

Truthfully speaking, thinking about my thesis is stressful. There are numerous ways to go about writing one’s thesis, and I am unsure of where to begin. Perhaps, this is something I should have began working on over the summer, but here we are!

As I write my blog post, I have been trying to figure out what interests me. What grasps my attention? What makes me cringe? What topics do I strongly agree with, and what topics can’t I stand? I find that asking myself these questions will hopefully assist me in developing the below thesis possibilities:

  1. The African American community: Being that I am an African American female, I would perhaps want to touch upon my community. From taking Dr. Nelson’s course, I first wanted to write about the effect and/or impact someone’s environment has on them. I would like to see how different people react to the same situation depending on the environment they came from. For example, two individuals coming from the same neighborhood with similar family dynamics and both going out into the world but having two different. One individual refuses to be a product of their environment, while the other falls into the repeated family cycle. 
  2. COVID-19, elderly, and religion: During Dr. Nelson’s course, I did not go with the above topic, but I rather focused on COVID-19 and its effects on the elderly. My research question touched upon how strains of COVID-19 have affected faith in the geriatric population. I am not too sure if I still want to focus on anything COVID-19 related, but I have always been around the elderly as my mother works in a nursing home. Hearing their stories and giving back to the previous generations is something that is important to me.
  3. Work-life balance: Currently working in the same location as where I receive my education and where I live, there is always a challenge of keeping a balance. This made me think of completing my thesis on work-life balance. Honing in employees’ perception of work-life balance, organizational structure, the role supervisors play, and more are of interest to me. Work-life balance is something that I have a love-hate relationship with as it is easy to state that one needs to have that balance, but there are various factors that play a crucial role in preventing that balance.