Juggling school and work (and other responsibilities) might feel like you’re drowning at times. You need to keep up with your studies, work to pay the bills and even find time to see your friends and have some fun. Are 24 hours a day enough to get everything in order? It turns out, if you stay organised and smart with your time, it’s possible to succeed in both your studies and your job. Here are a few tips for working students to stay organised and sane:
Keep everyone informed
Ensure your job manager knows you’re a full-time student. Provide them with your school schedule and most of the time, they will see that your shifts are arranged around your classes. Companies that employ students understand that you need to catch classes and keep up with your assignments. At school, you can try to take classes that are close together and bundled into single days. This way, you might get one or two days off school so you can work, study, rest and have fun. If you need to work on a school day, give yourself enough time to commute, get changed and eat.
Make school your priority
Some of us need to work to support our college careers, but it’s important to remember that school is your main priority. It’s there to set you up for a good career and a comfortable future. College is very expensive, so don’t waste time on repeating years and prolonging your studies. When you have a choice between work and school, the latter should always win. In most cases, the job you have now is here just to support your studies and not something you’re planning to do after you graduate, so keep your focus on the endgame. If it interferes with your studies, inform your boss that you can’t work overtime. And if you’re facing an important exam or project, you might be forced to cut shifts or leave work early.
Set up a calendar
It’s important to stay organised and always have the big picture visible for you. With a simple college calendar, you can have access to all the obligations that await you. Use the syllabus you got at the beginning of your year to outline your courses and input all important assignments into your calendar. Google Calendar and similar apps allow you to record important dates and stay organised long-term by scheduling classes, respecting due dates and deadlines, setting reminders, colour-code events and setting priorities and syncing multiple calendars. It’s also great if you can share Google contacts with your work team or your school study group. This way, you’ll always have access to important contacts and never again waste time digging through different apps to find client information or college contacts. By setting up your shared contacts and digital calendar, you can have access to important information no matter where you are.
Try time blocking
When organising your time and balancing your obligations, the main question is how much time to devote to each task. Make sure to investigate your habits and preferences and identify your most efficient study and work hours. Sometimes, this might require you to stay up past your bed time or get up early on Saturday and Sunday to catch up with your homework. If you struggle with prioritising your chores, try time blocking.
Time blocking is a time management method that encourages you to divide your day into blocks, each one is dedicated to a specific task or group of tasks, and only that. Every day will start with a concrete schedule that will make it clear when you’ll need to focus on during the day. It’s much more effective than having an open-ended list of activities.
Streamline your tasks
Let’s start this point with an example to illustrate why you need to streamline your tasks. Consider this: you need to run errands. Do you want to visit five different locations to do five chores, or do you want to do all of them in one location? It’s probably the latter because it saves time, energy and gas. The same thing happens with your school and job errands.
You might have an important project at school, so try to connect it to something you do at work and you’ll be able to cross off both things from your schedule. You might also want to try to take a new skill you’re learning at school and try it out in action at work. In many cases, it’s smart to keep your school and work lives separate, but not when trying to streamline your tasks.
Consider online classes
When you’re working, going back to school can be very hard. However, online classes allow you to enjoy better flexibility because you can follow your classes when you can and not commute to the faculty quarters to listen to your lectures. In some cases, you can take self-paced classes and follow your own schedule. It’s always important to take classes, online or not, that fits your learning style and lifestyle.
Use your breaks wisely
Taking breaks at work is obligatory, but make sure to use that precious time wisely, especially when you’re preparing for a test or working on an assignment. Instead of staring at your phone during your break, grab your book while you enjoy your lunch and do some reading. You’ll be surprised who many notes you can take and how many paragraphs you can skim.
Take care of yourself
You probably have so many day-to-day responsibilities that it can be hard to find time to eat, let alone take a long bath or sleep for 8 hours. However, a good night’s sleep will make a hugely positive impact on your productivity and performance. During rest and sleep, your body repairs any damage heals and prepares for future activity. Without sleep, it’s impossible to maintain focus. During your day, you can find at least some time to relax with your favourite show, grab coffee with friends or cuddle with your partner.
Keeping a job while working on a degree might seem too daunting, but it’s also a necessity for many. If you find yourself in a situation that requires you to do both, it’s important to know that it’s possible to handle everything with good organisation.