Any student will tell you it’s difficult to stay on top of their courses, and any employee understands the struggle of balancing work and life. As separate responsibilities, these are already difficult to manage; managing both at the same? Unthinkable.
But as humans, we have an intrinsic motivation to strive for self-improvement, and one of the ways many people reach for this is through formal education – going back to school to complete a degree, certification, or course that levels up their expertise. Some people even opt to remain working while going back to school, a feat that seems almost impossible.
We say almost because it’s been done before; being committed to being the best version of yourself means taking on the impossible – and since you’re here, reading this, we have a feeling you’re one of the rockstars that’ll make working while tackling school look like a breeze.
In this blog, we’ll dive into tips and strategies you can use to balance working a job while going back to school. Let’s get started!
1. Stick to a schedule
Juggling work and school means things are going to get hectic, and the best way to ensure that you’re on top of things is to plan your schedule and stick to it. As soon as you receive due dates for assignments and projects, put them in your calendar; and on the same note, when you receive deadlines or meeting dates for work, plug them in. This way, you’ll be able to see things with a bird's-eye perspective.
Naturally, there will be times in your schedule when things are quieter, and other times when it seems like everything is due at once – creating a schedule ahead of time will allow you to spread the work out so you aren’t under too much pressure in a short period of time. If there’s one week when you’ve got multiple tasks due for both school and work, but two weeks before that, things aren’t as busy, you can plan ahead of time and cross some of your to-dos off during the quieter week.
With this mindful tip comes a tangible one: get some sort of planner. Whether it be a physical agenda that you write tasks into, or an online calendar that keeps track of things digitally, seeing your calendar laid out visually will be extremely helpful and ensures you won’t forget anything.
2. Ask for help
There’s a certain level of (organized) chaos to be expected when working a job while doing school. But at some point, you may find that things are just a little too chaotic, and you need a breather. Transparency plays a big part here; don’t be afraid to ask your employer, professor, or others for a bit of help. It might mean flexibility with deadlines, after-class help with a course concept, or for your family to keep their noise levels down so you have a quiet study environment – whatever help you need, ensure you’re open and communicative with the people in your life.
But don’t take advantage of kindness – aka, don’t ask for an extension every time there’s an assignment just because you can. Ensure you’re only utilizing this option when you need it, to build trust between you and your employer or professor. This makes it much more likely that they’ll be willing to help should you need it again in the future.
3. Set your priorities
Keeping your priorities straight is a great strategy to manage working a job through school. This tip ties in with our first one, scheduling: once you see all of your deadlines laid out, you can begin to prioritize which ones will need more attention and time, which in turn helps you schedule work blocks.
Also ensure you’re prioritizing when it comes to things outside of work and school. While all of these tips will help you to manage things to the best of your ability, some things will have to give: you may need to pass up on a social outing here and there to stay in for a night of studying. Of course, that isn’t to say your whole life must be work and school. Setting priorities should help you stay on top of things, which will give you time back to rest and hang out. We know, it’s difficult – but remember, it’ll be worth it!
4. Listen to your mind and body
Things are already sounding hectic with these tips, which goes to show that managing school and work is no easy task. That being said, be sure to listen to your mind and body when they tell you they need rest. We know the feeling of having to always be on-the-ball; where you feel guilty for relaxing, because it means you might miss something. But your mind and body won’t do you any good without proper rest and rejuvenation. Get enough sleep, fuel your body with nutritious foods, and take time to relax – it’ll pay off when you come back to the table feeling better than ever.
5. Opt for online
You’re going to need a lot of time to manage a job and school, so opting for online work or courses is a good strategy to ensure you have as much time available as possible. Of course, be mindful of the type of learning that works best for you. If you’re much better at grasping concepts when someone lays the lesson out in front of you, then in-person classes are probably the way to go. But for self-learners that thrive off independence, online courses can give you back valuable time that might otherwise be spent commuting or waiting in class.
When it comes to work, a work-from-home position is a great option to save you time for the same reasons as school – you’ll save countless hours in travel, which can be used towards studying or working on assignments.
6. Treat yourself!
The last tip is an important one: you’re working super hard towards your goal, and that should be rewarded! Celebrate your achievements, like acing a big project, leading a team meeting, or even getting through a tough week. Small and big wins alike deserve recognition, and rewarding yourself throughout your journey will keep you motivated and inspired to keep going.
Learn more with Humi
We’re all about working towards being the best version of yourself, so to keep reading about learning and development, visit the resources below:
- For the podcast lovers, we’ve got a list of ten leadership podcasts that will be sure to engage and inspire you.
- The early stages of your career are a time of exploration and discovery; a time to figure things out, and to set the rest of your career up for success. To learn about how you can thrive during this time, read our blog: Surviving (and thriving in) your early career years.