TRELIS Toolkit

Open-access curriculum for training and retaining leaders in STEM

Session 4: Work-Life Integration


This session will consist of a series of whole and small-group discussions related to creating a combination of work and life that is healthy for you. Notably, the word “balance” as is typically used in discussions of “work-life balance” was purposely excluded by the creators of this session to push back against the idea that balance is something that can always be achieved.

Note: Materials for this session were originally collated and presented by Karen Kemp and Diana Sinton.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, participants will be able to…

Materials Needed

In this session, you will need the following materials:

Pre-Workshop Tasks

Before this session, watch the video and read the articles listed below. Reflecting on the associated questions that will inform our discussions and activities.



Session Activities

1. Questioning Our Thoughts and Beliefs (15 minutes).

This brief exercise (see slides) will model what it means to question a thought or belief. Leader reviews one statement whose “veracity” and emotional effects we will discuss. We will introduce the notion of considering the statement’s “turnaround” or reversal (ala Byron Katie), and discuss how thoughts and expectations affect our emotions.

“My sister is planning a big gathering for when my parents have their 40th wedding anniversary but it’s scheduled for the 2nd week of the semester and I can’t cancel classes to travel and attend.”

2. Small group discussions on 1) kincare; 2) work productivity; 3) personal well-being/self-care. (45 minutes, 4-5 people per table, switch tables at 20 minutes.)

For each topic, discussion should consider these influences:

3. Whole Group Wrap Up (20 minutes).

Each participant shares (verbally, 1 minute) a single key work-life issue that they want to work on in the coming year. No need to have the strategies identified, only the issue itself.

Additional Resources

  1. Owens, J., Kottwitz, C., and Ramirez, J. (2018) “Strategies to Attain Faculty Work-Life Balance”. Building Healthy Academic Communities Journal, 2(2). Link.
  2. Clear, James, “The Downside of Work-Life Balance”. Link.
    • Notes: This article introduces the “Four Burners Theory”
  3. Drexel University, “Finding your own Work-Life Balance”. Link.
    • Notes: This entry from Drexel University stresses that there is no silver bullet, what works for one may not work for another and to find what works for you
  4. Nagpal, Radhika. (2013) “The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure Track Faculty Life”. Scientific American. Link.
  5. Project Kaleidoscope. (2009) “Balancing Your Career & Personal Life”. Interviews from NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholars. Link.
  6. Glasrud, Eva. (2014) “How To Learn To Say No”. Link.
  7. Groysberg, B. and Abrahams, R. (2014) “Managing Your Work, Managing Your Life”. Harvard Business Review. Link.
  8. Slaughter, Anne-Marie. (2012) “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” The Atlantic. Link.
  9. Wyas, Lina. (2022) - “’New normal’” at work in a post-COVID world: work–life balance and labor markets” Policy and Society. Link.
    • Notes: A journal article with substantial evidence and conclusions, good summary graphics.
  10. D’Andrea, Sabrina. (2022) “Implementing the work-life balance directive in times of COVID-19: new prospects for post-pandemic workplaces in the European Union?” ERA Forum. Link.
    • Notes: The European prespective. Interesting because it discusses the EU directive on work-life balance, adopted in 2019 (pre-covid) and with implementation deadline in August 2022 (“post”-covid). Work-life balance is officially recognized in Europe: “The adoption of the Work-life Balance Directive in 2019 is a paramount achievement in this sense, marking an important step for gender equality and the right of workers with care obligations in the EU.”
  11. Owens, J., Kottwitz, C., Tiedt, J., and Ramirez, J. (2018). “Strategies to Attain Faculty Work-Life Balance”, Building Healthy Academic Communities Journal. Link.
    • Notes: An integrated review of the literature on life balance of academic faculty in all disciplines using multiple online databases with strategies to help achieve it.
  12. Lederman, Doug. (2022) “Turnover, Burnout and Demoralization in Higher Ed”. Inside Higher Ed. Link.
  13. Terras, Melissa. (2012) “The Superwoman Fallacy: What it really takes to be an academic and a parent” The Guardian. Link.
  14. Enriching Leadership International. (2015) “The Six Steps To Delegation”. Link.
  15. Holden Leadership Center. “Delegating Responsibility”. University of Oregon. Link.