Higher education is demanding no matter what level you’re at. Adding a job to a heavy courseload makes your life even more complicated. Can you keep your composure and remain on task when your responsibilities are overwhelming?
You might be surprised to find out that many others also seek a degree but need to work to finance their studies. Balancing each area of your life doesn’t have to lead to burnout. You can maintain your GPA and your paycheck without overloading yourself and drowning in stress.
Using every spare moment to pursue your goals takes planning and dedication. But with strategic methods, you can manage your schedule at work and in your college classes. Check out these five tips for juggling work and school.
1. Maintain an Organized Planner
Preemptive planning is a lifesaver when you’re keeping up with several commitments. Whether you use a digital calendar or a paper one, you can plot out your tasks for each hour of every day on your schedule. Prompt steady productivity with a smartphone app for planning like Any.do or ZenDay.
As an organizational tool, an agenda can help you visualize the flow of your itinerary as far ahead as is useful to you. Set aside time each week to look forward at your upcoming assignments, work hours and social events. Also, don’t forget to block off personal time to unwind and recharge.
2. Create a Study Zone
To avoid distractions and stay on task, you need an environment that can spur on learning. Minimal noise and a clean layout can do more for your focus than you think. Your campus library is a natural choice, with its quiet setting and roominess for spreading out study materials.
But with work in the mix, you may need to tweak some things. If you primarily do schoolwork at home, construct a nook with the right amount of comfort to boost your concentration. This space should offer privacy from roommates or family members while featuring external motivators like helpful quotes or reminders of deadlines.
3. Use Your Network
As you tackle work and school, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your relationships with family members, friends, professors and mentors can bolster your ability to press forward. Communicate as much as possible with your support system, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice and assistance when things get tough.
Off-campus internships can add new opportunities for the community, too. One work program for undergraduate students, the Disney College Program, allows you to network and learn from leaders in a unique setting. Gathering real experience and building connections with others can take place in a variety of contexts and environments.
4. Double up During Activities
Manual tasks where you’re active but not engaging your brain are excellent times to do double duty. However, it isn’t productive to multitask between tasks that use the same brain functions, so reserve extra attention for hands-on activities.
You can listen to audiobooks or replay lecture recordings while you do the dishes, go for a jog or clean your house. To get free audio of many classic works for your literature classes, take advantage of the public domain nonprofit, LibriVox. You can also review flashcards while you’re in waiting rooms or when you’ve got free time before a work-related meeting.
5. Maximize Your Commute Time
Depending on your position, your job might be on campus or somewhere else entirely. Whether you’re walking or driving from your housing to work, you can use this time to go over your notes or study.
Those who use public transportation have more leeway to directly read, watch and write for courses during their commute. However, if you drive yourself to work, you can convert your digital textbook or lecture notes into an audio file with tools like NaturalReader. Proofread your papers with this tool by listening to your own words, too.
Balance Your Career and Education
While a healthy balance between work and school is daunting, you can overcome this challenge. Don’t waste the spare moments you have — optimize your day to check off all the items on your to-do list. Pursue success in your career and courses with a strategic mindset and beneficial resources.