Not sure you can juggle work and study effectively? There is a way (or five)…
Whether you’re at school, college, or university, working alongside studying is a great way to gain practical work experience, not to mention boost your income. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy – especially if your course is particularly demanding in terms of your workload.
To make sure you’re not compromising the quality of your studies or taking on too much, here’s our essential guide to fitting work around studying:
Set realistic goals
Setting goals is a great way to stay driven and focused.
And, providing they’re actually attainable, they basically double up as a motivational to-do-list.
So if you’re struggling to see a light at the end of the essay-filled work tunnel, consider putting together a personal development plan to keep your head in the game (and on the right track). And don’t just think about the goals – plan the steps you’ll take to get there too.
By listing bite-size actions and tasks that’ll point you in the right direction, you’ll be able to ensure you’re moving towards your goal without being overwhelmed by the big picture.
For example: finishing university = daunting/scary/seemingly impossible. Researching a topic, putting together a plan, and writing a minimum of 800 words a week towards your dissertation = hard, but doable.
Not only will it ensure your goals are met, it’ll also mean you’re able to understand what you’re capable of – without having to burn out first.
For example, if your course takes up around 20 hours a week in lectures, seminars, or lessons, with additional time needed for coursework, revision, and exams – taking on a job that’s contracted at a minimum of 40 hours a week is probably an unrealistic feat.
After all, many jobs will allow you to work part-time, flexibly, or only during holidays from university or college – meaning work doesn’t have to interfere with your studies.
Alternately, if you’re studying a part-time course and your job is an essential part of your income, occasionally prioritising work over study and picking doable modules and projects will ensure you have the energy to take on both things.
When you’re trying to juggle studying and working, it can often feel like you have no time to fit it all in – especially when you’ve got deadlines coming up.
But you might have more time than you think.
After all, many courses can now be studied online – or at least allow students access to presentation slides, notes, or podcasts, meaning you don’t have to be at home or in a library to study.
So whether it’s working on an essay on a train or listening to your latest lecture on the bus – always make the most of all that ‘dead’ time. All you need is a smart phone and a notepad, and you’ll be able to do hours’ worth of studying, without feeling like it’s a massive strain on your time.
Face your fears
So you’re writing an essay and things are going well.
But 300 words in you spot a funny video on the internet, which links you to ten more. Hundreds of cat videos later, suddenly its midnight and, aside from wondering whether you can get a pet in halls, you’ve pretty much lost all focus.
Sound familiar? Whether it’s the internet, your phone, napping, or even cleaning the entire house from top to bottom – procrastination is tough to avoid, especially when your subconscious will seemingly do anything but work.
But it often stems deeper than a love for sleep, cat videos or cleaning. You’re avoiding work for a reason. And understanding and tackling your difficulties is the best way to boost productivity – and sometimes all it takes is asking for help to kick-start the task.
This, alongside recognising and getting rid of your main distraction triggers (hint: step away from the social media) will undoubtedly help you focus – and will help to ensure you have the time for both working and studying.
Give yourself time off
Finally, give yourself a break.
Attempting to take on too much without any recovery time will always end badly – and it’ll only be your job, course, or most importantly, your sanity that suffers in the long run.
So, organise your time wisely and allow yourself at least one day off a week – whether it’s for a night out, to play sports or just watch Netflix (and/or sleep). The break will do wonders for your productivity, and will give you much-needed downtime outside of your busy schedule.
You’ll also have the added bonus of cutting down on your crippling FOMO completely, not to mention a reduced sense of guilt when you’re doing anything outside of your day job or degree.
Because remember: you’re not a computer. And even if you were, there’s nothing wrong with taking a little time to re-charge.
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