If you’re worried about finding the balance between study and working part-time, you’re not alone. There are plenty of students out there who need to work to support themselves while they complete their studies. Juggling study with a part-time job isn’t easy, so how do you go about find the balance between your work, academic commitments and social life?
Whether you’re a student working to pay your tuition and bills, or undertaking a course to advance your skills, balancing work and study can seem overwhelming – but it can be achieved with some planning and self-discipline.
The following tips show the 11 best ways to balance study and part-time work.
1. Keep everyone (and yourself) informed
If you have a part-time job it’s inevitable that there will be times that your work and study schedules clash. In order to avoid this, you should let your boss and co-workers know all of your unavailabilities well in advance. That means class times, group study sessions and exams should all be flagged and added into the calendar as early as possible. If you give your employer as much notice as possible, you should be able to avoid your work having to take priority over your studies.
University staff are aware that many students have jobs and financial commitments, so if you find yourself struggling to meet deadlines due to work getting in the way, seek advice from your student centre and try to negotiate a solution.
2. Create a schedule and follow it
A schedule is a great way to figure out your priorities and the amount of time you need to get everything done. The more detailed your calendar is, the more likely you are to stick to it. Make sure to fill in everything including class times, work times, study time, due dates, appointments and other obligations. This way, you’ll know exactly when your free time is, so you can schedule in leisure and social time accordingly. For easier reference, you can also colour code your schedule by having a different colour for each task/commitment.
3. Plan for the unexpected
Although you should try to stick to your schedule as best as possible, you should allow a buffer for when unexpected things come up. You can do this by allotting extra time between tasks. By planning for unexpected roadblocks you’ll be ahead of the game, and also avoid getting stressed if things don’t go exactly according to plan.
4. Don’t leave things to the last minute
You can’t expect to perform your best at work or at school when you stay up all night studying for an exam, or finishing an assignment last minute. Break down your project or assignment into small steps or goals and tick them off as your achieve them. This way, your assessment or work will be of a better quality, you’ll reduce your stress levels, and you’ll continue to perform well in your job and studies.
There are plenty of task management and productivity apps out there that are designed to help students make the most of their study time. The Freedom app is a clever tool that helps to manage distractions by blocking the internet and social media across different devices, for those times that you really need to knuckle down and focus. Wunderlist is a great app for setting goals, reminders and to do lists that can help keep you in-check and on schedule.
5. Learn how to manage stress
Working and studying at the same time can be stressful, but there are many ways to manage stress – it’s just a matter of finding what works for you. Activities such as breathing exercises, practicing yoga or meditation can all greatly reduce stress and provide benefits for both your physical and mental health. Reducing stress is important for staying focused, centred and productive, and will ultimately allow you to work to your best ability. Most education institutions will have student services and support staff that you can speak to if you are struggling with managing stress.
6. Stay healthy
Eating nutritious food, exercising, and getting enough sleep or taking a short nap during lunch breaks can boost your brain and body’s performance. It will improve your memory and productivity, increase your focus and decision-making skills, and help you process information faster.
7. Reward yourself
When you’ve successfully completed a task, reward yourself. Have a nice dinner, go on a fun day trip on the weekend, take a long hot bath, or go on a shopping spree. Choose rewards that you know you’ll look forward to. Rewarding yourself will encourage you to continue working hard and strengthen good habits.
8. Focus on your goal and the reward
Always keep in mind why you chose to work while studying or to study while working, and stay focused on that goal. You can do this by creating a vision board of your ideal life, writing it down, letting your family and friends know about your goal, and asking them to remind you of it when you need it most.
9. Set boundaries
If people ask you to do something that will get in the way of you completing a task for work or an assessment for school and it’s not very important, say no. It’s one of the simplest ways you can maintain balance in your work and study life. You can’t do everything, and therefore you should set boundaries for what’s realistic.
10. Find work in your chosen industry
If you can find a part-time job in your chosen industry, it’s a great way to balance your work and studies. You can apply the skills and knowledge you learn from school at work, and what you learn from work can better inform your studies. What’s more, you’ll get experience early on, your colleagues can offer support and advice, and both studying and working will be fun.
11. Use grants or scholarships and pay for school now
Apply for a grant or scholarship to help pay for your tuition fees and textbooks. You can also use the money you earn from work to pay for your studies. If you have a student loan debt, paying it off now can reduce your interest payments in the future. Also, paying for your education now rather than later can increase your overall happiness and wellbeing, which is important for your emotional balance.
By following these tips, you should be able to maintain a healthy balance between work and study, and have fun at the same time.