Are you worried about finding the perfect balance to manage both your studies and your work?
You are not alone. There are many others who have to work to support themselves while they complete their studies. Even though it is common to work while studying, it is something that can bring a lot of stress if it is not done with self-discipline, time-management, and proper planning.
A study conducted by Georgetown University shows that more than 75% of post-graduate students and around 40% of undergraduate students work at least 30 hours per week while completing their studies.
Balancing a full-time job with studying can be extremely difficult, and if you are one of the many people trying to balance it all, this article will provide you with some of the top tips on how to manage studying and work successfully and with confidence.
10 tips on successfully managing your work-study balance:
Manage your time
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter Drucker.
When you are trying to achieve balance, the most important question you need to answer is how much time you can devote to which tasks. One of the most important aspects of time management is knowing yourself and scheduling time to study at your most efficient hours.
Consider utilising both a weekly and monthly schedule. A weekly schedule will lay out how you spend your time, while your monthly schedule will be broader, letting you plan ahead.
Balance your energy and your attention
Working while studying requires a lot of time and effort and putting so much mental and physical strain into this difficult balance can easily leave you feeling fatigued, stressed or both and you will want to avoid this to not burn yourself out.
Maintain a flexible schedule
The flexibility of your employer and your education provider are two critical factors in your ability to achieve optimal balance. It is recommended you start talking to your line manager/employer about your plans to study further early, while also researching education providers that offer work-friendly programmes (i.e., evening classes, distance learning, or part-time options.)
If your employer understands that you have academic demands and you will require shifts in your schedule, or occasional study leave, it will make the prospect of studying while working much more manageable and enjoyable.
Love what you are studying
Arguably the easiest way you’ll be successful in managing the work and study balance is by choosing to study something that you have a strong interest in. If you enjoy your classes and your assignments, you’ll be more motivated to find the time to prioritise your studies over distractions and balance your studies with work more successfully.
Work smarter, not harder
Under certain circumstances you can use your company as a basis for assignments or research projects, this will showcase your growing skillset while simultaneously reducing the time and stress involved in researching unknown organisations. Another simple tip is taking time during your work lunch hour for reading, assignment researching or reviewing exam notes.
Remember your ‘why’
It’s important to remember the reason you started studying, when you are feeling overwhelmed. Create a vision board or display your goals so you can see them every day. Whenever it starts to feel overwhelming, remind yourself why you are making sacrifices at this time of your life. When something great happens, like a promotion at work or acing your exam, reward yourself! Stay sane by celebrating the small victories on your way toward the final goal. You would not be tackling work and study at the same time if you didn’t have good reasons. Don’t lose sight of them.
Get enough rest and prioritise your health
Remaining healthy both physically and mentally is one of the keys to successfully managing studying while working.
Sleep a minimum of 7 to 8 hours, or at least try to. This will strengthen your immune system, benefit your memory, and help you cope with stress.
Also, be sure to eat nutritious food throughout the day to keep your energy up. We know that getting a takeaway can be tempting and much easier than cooking a healthy meal, but while you’re balancing your busy schedule, try aim for a more balanced diet as well!
Having a heavy work schedule and studying will inevitably cause you to stress out every now and then. Therefore, you should be able to handle your stress in a positive way. Exercise at the gym or go for a walk a couple of times a week because physical exercise is an effective stress reliever.
You can listen to music, write in a journal, have a massage, visit the salon, etc. Try to devote at least 30 minutes of your day to doing something you enjoy as a way to reduce stress.
It’s a good idea to take regular breaks. It refreshes and re-energises your mind and body alike.
Find a study buddy, or join a network
It is easy to feel lonely or lack motivation when you are studying alone while also maintaining a job. Knowing that there are others doing the same, with the same challenges as you will enable you to discuss some of your course work with them and help you to create a network of friends who are overcoming the same obstacles.
Whether it’s via social media, email, text or your course platform, finding a network of people in the same situation as you will increase your motivation and dedication to the course.
Do not take on more than you can manage
Committing to more work than you can handle is very common. Ask yourself — “How much work can I cope with?” then prioritise and decide what you need to do first.
Working full time while studying is challenging and often leads to negligence towards your studies due to your source of income being top priority. So, understand and honor your limits, and ensure that you do not stress more than you’re meant to.
It is easy to take on more than you can manage, particularly if you find yourself in a role that is relevant to your desired career path. In these cases, you may benefit from shorter, faster courses that you can take as and when you have capacity. The IMM Graduate School had a large library of 1-week express courses available.
Each express course consists of one fast-paced module that can be completed in just one week and is followed by a quick quiz to embed your knowledge. On completion of each express course, you will receive an IMM certificate and skills badge to bolster your CV.