Working full-time takes a significant portion of your week, added to the time and stresses of home and family responsibilities. If you're thinking about going back to school as a means to change or advance in your current one, the burden increases.
The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2017 that 43% of all full-time undergraduate students and 81% of part-time students were employed while enrolled. Graduate students have it harder, according to a study cited in The Atlantic. It says 76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week. Nearly 20% of these students have children.
If this is you, you’re probably wondering: "Where will I find the time for college, a job, my family, and a life?" The answers lie in planning and organization. You can create a work-school-life balance that helps you maintain a healthy life and positive relationships.
>> Read Health and Wellness Guide for Busy College Students
The following 8 steps can help you plan for a healthy and happy work-school-life balance.
1. Consider an Online Program
Earning a degree online offers the convenience of studying from practically anywhere at times that make sense with your schedule. For example, ask your employer whether you’re allowed to tackle coursework during your lunch break. Or, wake up an hour earlier each day to focus that time on assignments.
With a little time management, you can complete your studies without missing the important things happening at the office and home.
>> Read Classroom vs. Online Education: Which One Is Better for You?
2. Build a Support Network
Going back to school while working full-time is a big decision. Before you register for classes, have a serious conversation with your family, mentor, friends, and manager. Ensure you have a support network that can help you through this next phase of your professional journey.
An employer who understands your goals may help you arrange a flexible work schedule. Your partner, extended family, or close friends can pitch in to help you with housework, children, and other obligations when you are studying.
When you start classes, build a network there, too. Keep an open dialogue with your instructors and connect with other students. Also, take advantage of school resources that can help you in your journey.
3. Schedule Time Off for Studying
Don't be a hero when it comes to managing course requirements, work, and personal obligations. As soon as you get your course syllabus, evaluate how much time you will need to prepare for important exams or assignments. Schedule time away from work so you can study.
Experiment to find the best times for you to study and to find how often you need breaks. Also, figure out the best place for you to focus where all your materials are accessible.
Here are more ideas for making the most of study time:
- Dedicate each study session to a single subject
- Have a study goal for each session
- Plan to study when you’re most alert, whenever that is
4. Manage Your Time Wisely
Every minute counts. Do you usually sleep in on the weekend? Give up that luxury and use the time for classes. Enjoy binge-watching the latest new series on Netflix? Do a half binge instead; the show will still be there next week. Spend some of that time getting coursework done.
Here are a few more ideas for prioritizing your time as a college student:
- Break up large tasks into smaller components
- Keep an up-to-date schedule
- Make a weekly to-do list
- Plan time for relaxation and seeing family or friends
- Set deadlines for yourself
Remember the goal you're working towarda promising future and greater opportunity. Once you've attained your goal, you will be able to take more time for other activities.
5. Minimize Distractions in Your Home Environment
The flexibility of online learning allows you to be at home with your family rather than commuting and sitting in a classroom. Nonetheless, you are still attending college, even if you aren't physically going anywhere. Make a space for yourself where you can concentrate. Ensure your family understands that your study space is sacred. You need a place without distractions, so you can focus and learn.
Also, remember that minimizing distractions isn't just about preparing the right space for your studies. You also need to ensure you've limited all desktop and mobile distractions. Close social media platforms and messenger apps. Don't check your texts or email until you've finished studying.
Here are some more tips to relieve distractions:
- Don’t fret what about what you’re not doing
- Stay focused on the task at hand
- Don’t let work intrude on school, and don’t let school intrude on work
6. Access Your Online Classroom Regularly
When you take an online class, you may be tempted to take it a little easy. Maybe you don't log in to your classroom very often. If you let too much time lapse between checking in to the student portal, your next visit may leave you feeling overwhelmed.
By checking in regularly, you’ll be less likely to miss an assignment. You’ll also have a chance to discover resources and tools that can help you complete assignments and continue your progress.
7. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute
You've got a busy life, and it's going to be even busier when you start working toward a degree. Don't let other things get in the way of your education. If you don't prioritize school, you will end up waiting until the last minute. If you manage your time well, you will be able to manage professional and personal concerns that may arise.
To that end, plan ahead to avoid the stress and anxiety of trying to beat a last-minute deadline. Take time to revise and edit your work, which will also lead to a better finished product.
8. Take Time for Self-Care
Your basic needs often get lost when you're balancing work, school, and home. Ignoring your physical and mental health can have serious consequences. Try to find ways to take care of your health while you pursue your degree. Among the things you can do to help yourself are:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Have fun
- Practice positive self-talk
- Relax through massage, meditation, or breathing exercises
- Take a walk
If you need it, don’t hesitate to ask for extra help from friends or family.
Balancing Life, Work, and School is Possible
Do you have concerns about work-school-life balance? Request more information today, and learn how an online program with Purdue Global can help you grow your opportunities.