Whether you go back to school after starting a career or if you are starting school but need to work full-time to make ends meet, you're going to have to answer this question: How do you balance work and school? Finding a balance between getting your classes done and getting your work done is not easy, but it is possible. By understanding the importance of work/life balance and striving to capture that balance daily, you can keep on top of all of your responsibilities and earn your degree. All it takes is a little focus and planning.
The Importance of Work/Life Balance
Just how do you manage working full time and school? Before jumping ahead to focus on some practical tips, you need to understand the importance of work/life balance first. It's easy to dive too deep into work, whether it be schoolwork or professional work, and sacrifice your family or personal life. This is a recipe for burnout. If you do not strike a good work-life balance, you will fail at work as well as your daily life responsibilities. For that reason, these tips will include some ideas for finding that crucial balance.
11 Practical Tips for Balancing School and Work
Now that you understand the benefits of work-life balance, here are some practical steps you can take to manage it all.
1. Build a Support Network
During this period when you're doing school and work, you are going to need a little help. You may need your kids to pick up the slack around the house or your significant other to do some of the shopping while you do other things. You may need to tap friends to serve as babysitters.
This is one of the reasons you can't neglect that critical balance. You need your loved ones to support you, so make sure you carve out time for them.
2. Practice Good Time Management
Are you asking yourself, "How do I balance online classes if I work full time?" If you are, the answer is simple: good time management. Schedule your days so you can see, on paper, where and when your schoolwork and professional work will get done. One strategy that works well is time blocking. Rather than scheduling your day to the minute, you block out certain time periods for certain tasks. During that block, you focus on that activity, and when the time block is over, you stop. This can increase your productivity by as much as 50 percent!
3. Carve out Time for Fun
You are going to have to sacrifice some of your recreational activities while in school, but you need to carve out some time for rest and recreation. As you block your schedule, make room for some fun. You will quickly burn out and lose that work-life balance if you do not.
4. Learn to Streamline
Going to the grocery store three times a week takes far more time than doing errands all on one day. If you can go to multiple stores in one run on one day, you will spend less time on grocery shopping. The same thing is true for many of your household chores. Rather than having one cleaning task you do daily, have a block in your schedule to knock out all of them for the week. Streamlining errands and household tasks so you do more of them at once will help you find more time for studying.
5. Talk to Your Boss
Let your boss know that you're going to be going back to school. If the education will benefit the company, your boss will likely embrace this and help you find the time for schoolwork. This will also help your boss understand why you may not have quite as much time flexibility as you previously had.
6. Take Online Classes
It's easier than ever to go back to school because most schools offer online education. You can earn an entire degree without stepping foot in the classroom. Taking online classes will help you work your schooling into an already busy schedule because you can log on to view lectures or take part in discussions when it works for you.
7. Recognize Signs of Too Much Stress
It is stressful to balance work and school. Some stress is good for you, a healthy nudge to get things done in a timely manner. But too much stress is unhealthy, and you must be able to spot signs that it is getting to you. If you feel that you are always hassled or hurried, or you find that you're unusually moody or irritable, then it may be a sign that you are taking on a bit too much. If your sleep is affected or you feel physical pain that has no clear cause, stress could be the culprit. When you feel these signs, find a way to relieve stress so you do not hurt your health.
8. Learn to Be Present
One of the challenges of balancing school and work is the constant need to think about the next thing. To make this balance happen, learn to stay focused and present at the task you are currently working on. When it's time to go to work, give your all on the job. When it's time to visit with friends and family, focus your energy on those relationships. When study time rolls around, block out your other responsibilities to focus on your studies.
9. Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
To stay motivated, give yourself a number of goals to strive for, but make them realistic. You may not be able to get straight A's while balancing these responsibilities, but you can focus on learning and retaining information. Remember, the goal isn't a certain GPA, but expanding your skills. Make your goals realistic and attainable, and you will be more motivated to strive for them.
10. Know when to Say "No"
During this time of your life, you aren't going to be able to take every task that comes your way. When an opportunity comes across your path, determine if it helps you reach the current goals you have set for yourself. If the answer is "no," then graciously decline the opportunity.
11. Remember This Is Temporary
Even with these tips, you may still find it challenging to find this balance. Remember, this schedule is temporary! Once you attain your degree, you won't have to carry such a big workload all at once. This can motivate you to keep striving for your goals, even when it's challenging.
Achieving Work/Life Balance Is Possible, and It's Critical Too
Remember, achieving work/life balance is critical when school, life and the job are all competing for your attention. Without a happy balance, you will burnout or fail to achieve what you're striving for. With it, you can attain your degree, keep up with your work responsibilities, and enjoy the fruits of your labor through increased earning potential and a more rewarding future career.
Are you interested in earning an undergraduate or graduate degree? University of the Cumberlands offers convenient, flexible and affordable academic programs for all interests. Request more information today.