I have recently decided to embark on a course. The thought of this was wilding exciting, but also extremely daunting. You see, I have not done any sort of study since I was… well, in high school over a decade ago! I didn’t take the decision to study lightly, especially when I work full-time. I knew it would have a considerable impact on an already busy lifestyle, but given the subject is something that I am passionate about I decided to go ahead.
As a Candidate Manager in the recruitment industry, I am regularly speaking to people that are studying on the side, whilst working full-time. In May 2015, The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 15% of employed people were studying for a qualification. With the cost of living these days, understandably most people opt to remain in full time employment, and just accept that their chosen course will take longer to complete.
Having a work-life balance is difficult enough, so it really got me thinking – How do people successfully manage a work-study-life balance? And more specifically, how was I going to manage it? Having spoken to a number of candidates who have studied/are currently studying and working full time, I am now armed with a few useful tips!
You are not superwoman/man. Placing unrealistic demands on yourself will be stressful and is likely to dampen your enthusiasm for your studies. Think about what you can reasonably commit to, considering all other life priorities, including your 8-5 job.
Plan your time
You’ve probably paid a fair amount for your course, so you need to prioritise it. Plan out your time in advance. Be clear on when you will study – and stick to it! Think ahead, as you will no doubt have to juggle time around friend’s birthdays, a trip away, entertaining visitors etc. If you aren’t planned and committed it’s easy to get behind.
Keep a separate diary. This way you can write your planned study schedule for the week without getting mixed up with your normal work requirements. I prefer writing in a paper diary, but Trello is a good program for those that prefer an electronic version.
Find a quiet space
Make sure you have a quiet space to go to. It’s important to be in a space where you are not distracted by the TV or conversation, otherwise a 2 hour task could end up taking 4 hours. A public library is great – most now have Wi-Fi, desks and any publications that you might need for your research.
Think about the end goal
Remind yourself why you decided to study. It might be for progression in your current role, to change careers completely, or simply for personal growth. Keeping the end goal in mind will help to keep you motivated – especially at the times when you have to say ‘no’ to a social event or are finding the study a bit tough.
Sleep and exercise
So simple yet so important. Studying late into the night will likely mean an unproductive day at work the next day. But equally, working late every evening will mean unproductive study time. Having some form of break in between the two is important – a quick run, some yoga or just walking the dog will help to clear your mind so that you’re ready to study. Not looking after yourself will make you sick and run down, and inevitably both your work and study will suffer.
Pat yourself on the back
Lastly, congratulate yourself for putting in the time and effort to work on ‘you’! And as American journalist Sylvia Porter once said, “Invest in yourself, in your education. There’s nothing better”.
Best of luck!