Whether you’re planning to study while working full-time, or work part-time while enrolled in college, balancing the two – work and studies – is crucial not only for success but also for the sake of your mental health. Stress is always the biggest enemy, and if you’ve decided to go down this path, it is important to have a plan. Here are a few tips to help you sketch your plan of action with better clarity.
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Before you begin, it is best to clear your field of vision as much as possible. A routine, which is essentially a plan, does exactly that. A fixed routine also helps you manage your time. It gives you an idea of the most and the least productive time and place – early mornings, late nights, in-between hours, crowded spaces, or complete solitude – so that you can set yourself tasks accordingly. The only way to monitor your progress is through the steady framework of a routine. It is only through this that you will know what’s working and what isn’t, and how to find a way around what doesn’t. Finding a routine that works best takes a little time and effort, so keep trying different patterns until you find the one that’s comfortable.
Deadlines have a tendency to be omnipresent. Your work and college deadlines can sometimes coincide, sending your stress levels up the roof. But there are ways in which you can be prepared. Office work can be shared, but assignments and exams cannot. Requesting a colleague to share your work load while you attend to college deadlines can take some pressure off you. You can make up for this work when college requirements relatively ease up.
Carrying your study material to work allows you to attend to it whenever time permits. It also gives you a chance to utilise commute time. It is best, however, to discuss your situation with the management at your office beforehand so that an effective arrangement can be made.
Years of academic research has shown that study groups are more optimal for absorbing information than a classroom setting. Groups allow for more interactions which eventually lead to a better understanding of the subject. Find a small group of people with whom you can discuss difficulties in your subjects, thereby saving yourself a lot of time. Being part of a study group also ensures that you’re constantly making time for your studies. Moreover, it also serves as a source of moral support when the stress overshoots your ability to handle it.
Both time and money are precious resources. But since you’re playing the role of a student, and because you already have a regular flow of income, time takes the upper hand. So trade money and buy yourself time wherever you can. Get help with housekeeping so you can use the time spent on chores for studying. If taking a cab saves you more time than public transport, don’t hesitate to spend on it. Hit two birds with one stone by living in with a roommate as this saves you time (you can share the work at home) and money (expenses such as rent, groceries, etc.). When you’re constrained by time, you will need to make more room for your needs, as compared to convenience.
This is the most crucial part of you routine. Work and studies can be taxing on their own, and juggling both can be incredibly stressful. Your body and mind will be screaming for attention at the end of every day. A consistent sleep cycle is the best way to de-stress. If you’re strict with a routine, your sleep hours will also fall into place. Once you have this under control, you can look for other ways to relax. Make time for physical activity, be it a walk, run, swim, or yoga, at least a few days in a week or on the weekends.
Balancing work and studies means a lot of alone time. Loneliness weighs down on you and only makes it harder to deal with stress. So surround yourself with friends and family whenever possible as there is no better way to de-stress and maintain mental health.
This is a difficult path to walk on as it demands almost all of your time and energy. But as actor Hugh Laurie says, “There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now.” So go for it!