Many students choose to work while completing their education primarily due to financial constraints. Whatever the reason, juggling academics and a career side-by-side can be quite tricky. It takes careful planning to succeed in both areas and not end up burnt out.
Here are a few steps that you can take to maintain a healthy balance between your work and studies, while also taking out time for yourself.
Have a detailed plan
At the start of your semester, note all the significant milestones like quizzes, project submissions, and exams for all your courses. Similarly, take stock of any workplace meetings or deadlines that you can see coming. Make a detailed plan to tackle everything by assigning sufficient hours to each task.
At the start of each week, define your goals for the next seven days. Make daily routines to define your day-to-day tasks. Write everything down in a daily planner. Having a planner app on your phone is better than carrying one everywhere. However, it’s not sufficient only to make an elaborate plan; you must also follow it religiously. Avoiding procrastination is the key to completing all your daily tasks as planned.
Work smart, not hard
Spending hours aimlessly studying will not get you anywhere. Instead of working hard without any direction, start working smart with a precise aim. Make it a routine to study the hardest subjects early in the morning when you’re fresh out of bed. Leave the easy topics for late at night or when you’re tired.
Instead of spending all your time reading textbooks and trying to absorb information, test yourself periodically to see how much of the information you are retaining. Take online tests on websites like Wiley CPA from time to time and see if your scores are getting better. If not, you need to change your method of studying.
Capitalize on your free time
Some jobs come with dedicated vacation times, like teaching. Others allow some paid time off. Make sure that you utilize each of these days. Decide if you want to go on a vacation and for how many days; plan it for when your semester has ended, or the workload is light.
Save some vacation days to use around your exams for extra preparation time. If you have weekends off, use those days to get ahead of your coursework and house chores. However, if you have a weekend job, make sure to stay on top of your studies throughout the week because you cannot rely on weekends to catch up.
Improve your reading speed
A lot of courses require extensive reading from multiple sources. Several readings are assigned every week that students must thoroughly study and use in their coursework. If you’re a slow reader, you will be at a significant disadvantage when studying for these courses. Improving your reading speed without compromising your comprehension skills can prove very beneficial.
Study while on the go
If you have a long commute to work or university, you probably feel like all that time is wasted. However, it doesn’t have to be. You can study while traveling by downloading some or all of your study material on your phone and go through it on the bus.
If you drive a car or take a bicycle, get audiobook versions of all your text books to listen to while you’re driving. Make sure to concentrate on the material to properly understand and retain it. Otherwise, this exercise is of no use.
Master the art of productivity
Productivity is vital if you want to tread this path of studying while working full-time. There are ample distractions these days, the biggest being your phone. It can be hard to concentrate on your studies when your phone keeps ringing every two minutes. Switch it off or leave it to charge in another room while you tackle your coursework.
Another way to ensure productivity is by avoiding multitasking and focusing on only one task at any given time. Your tasks will be accomplished much quicker. If you keep dividing your focus between different activities, you will waste precious time while your mind switches from one task to the other. You will never quite get in the zone and it will take longer to finish your work.
Keep your employer and teachers in the loop
Having a good relationship with your boss is extremely important if you’re also pursuing a degree in addition to working. Always be upfront about your busy schedule. Never commit to a task if you’re not sure you will be able to complete it. It is better to politely decline any extra duties or commitments than to agree and not deliver.
Similarly, let your professors know that you’re working full-time in addition to your studies. Most professors will happily accommodate you if you get overwhelmed with work. During your weekly planning, if you can see a submission deadline that you know you will not be able to make, communicate it to your instructor in advance, and you might get an extension.
Take out time to relax and take care of yourself
This may not seem as important, but in the long run, this is the most crucial thing to completing your degree and maintaining your career. Burnout and exhaustion are very real and many people suffer from them. It is important to take time out of your schedule for yourself. This is easier to do if you can develop healthy habits over time.
Wake up early, hit the gym, and have a healthy breakfast. Avoid over-caffeinating yourself and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Take vacations, meet family members and go out with friends. These things will keep you sane and motivate you to achieve your goals.
Working full-time while studying may be hard, but it is doable. With the right mindset, motivation, and planning, you can excel in both academics and your career. Make a good schedule, be productive, communicate with your superiors, and utilize your free time effectively. Most importantly, take care of your physical and mental health to achieve all you want.