4 ways to balance work and study


Working full-time while studying has real benefits. In addition to having a steady income, you can apply your study directly to your role as you learn new practices, strengthening the link between theory and practice within your career.

However, combining study with full-time work also has its challenges. It’s no easy task. Juggling your work commitments and deadlines, with assignments, exams and lectures can lead to stress, anxiety and loss of control. If you’re not managing your time well, things can easily get out of hand.

It is important to find the right balance to avoid the pitfalls and make sure you remain successful in both.

Here are some simple tips on how to do that.

1. Focus on key dates and plan forward

Being organised and managing your time effectively will ensure you fit all your commitments in. Make a plan that includes all your key work and study deadlines. When you can see that things will overlap, plan to get ahead. This means when your deadlines are looming, you are ready, you’ve done the groundwork in advance.

Break down the work you need to do to meet your deadlines into smaller pieces. Take one step or task at a time. If it helps, mark off each task on a to-do list – you’ll really feel like you are getting somewhere and achieving.

Prioritise the important stuff and be prepared to re-prioritise the less important things in busy times, to make sure you stay on top of everything. You can go back to your busy social life when your schedule settles down. It can still happen again once your study is over.

Make the best use of unexpected downtime. If you see that you have a window, use it to get ahead of your schedule. Things you don’t expect and need to be done are bound to crop up, so being prepared will mean that you can take care of last-minute things to do, without falling too far behind.

2. Take time for yourself

To continue to achieve your goals for work and in your study, you need to look after yourself. While things like your health, sleep and nutrition are still as important as ever, taking some time out for the things you enjoy will help you keep it all in balance.

Be realistic with yourself. Studying until 2am every morning, whilst holding down a full-time job is not sustainable. Block out some time each week to focus on you. No matter how long, a day, a few hours, 30 minutes; use that time to regenerate. Take a walk, get a massage, catch up with friends or binge on a Netflix series, whatever works for you. Taking time to do things that recharge your batteries, will lift your performance and sustain you in the busy times.  

3. Your time is precious
Make sure you take measures to keep on track with your goals. If you’re unsure whether you’re going in the right direction, stop and recalibrate. Seek help. Book a meeting with your learning provider who can help you to fully understand what you’re doing. If you don’t feel you have enough material to complete the task at hand, ask if there is anything else available for you or to be pointed in the right direction. If you don’t know exactly what you’re working toward, clarify it before you waste time heading in the wrong direction. Study smarter, not harder.

The same applies at work. Check in regularly with your manager to stay on top of deadlines, projects and make sure you’re not missing anything that may add to your workload down the track. Check with colleagues on group projects. Follow up on client work that you have completed, to make sure there are no outstanding requests that they will need in a hurry.

If you have a regular commute on public transport, think about how you can best utilise this. Catch up on emails, proofread essays, flick through revision cards whilst you’re travelling, or just enjoy the downtime.

4. Say yes to support
You’re juggling a lot. If a colleague or manager offers you support, take it. Having a conversation with a peer on an assignment you’re struggling with, may spark an idea and help you get it finished.
Your learning provider may have people you can seek support from, and you should take advantage of that. Be aware of the assistance available to help you. If you know a colleague who has already completed the module you are currently working on, ask them for a quick chat to see if they have any tips that may help you.

Take advantage of workplace flexibility, if this is something that is available at your workplace. Working flexibly gives you more scope to fit the demands of your workload and your study, in the best way that works for you.

Go easy on yourself through this busy time. A little bit of self-belief can go a long way – so believe that you can do it.




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