Returning to study whilst working a full-time job can seem like a daunting task for any individual. Juggling the added workload, finding the time to study, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may seem impossible, however with the correct approach you can overcome these challenges and excel in both your work and studies.
Check out some of our tips to help you achieve a good balance between work and study.
1. Set Realistic Goals
Set realistic and achievable goals when embarking on your part-time study plans. Often when people start a new part-time course, the excitement of starting a new challenge clouds their judgment and they make plans that they are unable to commit to. Convincing yourself that you will be able to commit to 1-2 hours of study every evening may sound good in theory, however in reality, it is simply not feasible as work and life commitments will undoubtedly get in the way of these plans, causing you to quickly fall behind in your plan which can be disheartening.
Learn what you can realistically achieve when you first start studying and set milestones and goals from there. Ticking off these milestones and setting new ones for yourself can be an excellent motivator for your remaining studies!
2. Manage Your Time Effectively
When returning to study, time management is crucial as you will want to avoid your work performance dropping because of the added workload from your course.
A useful exercise is to create a timetable that highlights both your work and study commitments. Having a calendar that shows assignment deadlines, upcoming conferences, social events, and extra-curricular activities will allow you to plan your days and weeks accordingly and ensures you have ample time to complete both work and study assignments.
This will also help identify tasks by their level of importance, allowing you to dedicate more time and effort when necessary (and helping you avoiding any last-minute, late-night assignment submissions!).
Having your week laid out in a clear, easy to view format can also be a source of motivation for you, highlighting the key tasks that you aim to accomplish during that period.
3. Work & Study in a Suitable Environment
It is important to have a comfortable space in which you can work and study and be free from distractions. Whether this be a home office, your local library or your work desk, you need an environment where you can work effectively. Your study time may be limited, depending on work and life commitments, so it is crucial that it is not wasted.
If you are easily distracted by your phone or social media sites, consider using apps such as Social Fever, Freedom or Space to set limits on how long you can view certain sites. Android and iPhone devices also have built-in tools that can assist your screen management time.
If you live with family members or housemates, communicate your schedule with them so they know not to disturb you when you're studying.
4. Look After Your Health & Wellbeing
Working full-time and studying part-time is a major undertaking for any individual so it is important that you look after your health, both physical and mental, to avoid stress and burnout.
With a busier schedule, you may be tempted to get takeaways to save time. This is fine to do occasionally but regularly doing this will leave you feeling sluggish and tired as you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Eating healthy, nutritious food will give you the energy you need to remain focused on the tasks at hand.
Taking regular breaks away from work and study is also recommended to give your brain a break. Studies show that taking a break when studying can have the following benefits:
- Improve memory and concentration
- Relaxes your muscles
- Reduces stress
So when you finish your job, make sure to schedule a break before starting any study. Go for a walk, watch your favourite tv show or listen to a podcast. Take some time to switch that brain off and just relax!
5. Talk to your Employer
When embarking on your part-time studies, it is important to let your employer know of this added commitment you are taking on. They may be in a position to offer support, whether it be financial aid to cover some of the costs of the programme or provide resources such as a laptop to help complete assignments. You can also avail of study days which can be taken ahead of exams, so you have additional time to study and prepare.
Interested in taking that next step in your career? NCI has a wide range of part-time courses designed to help you achieve your goals within a timetable you can manage, taking into account your commitments of work and life. Visit our Part-time courses page to learn more.