6 Tips on How to Combine Studying and Working

I am a full-time student and a part-time personal care assistant. I have been working while studying throughout my studies and I feel like I have grown a lot thanks to it. This has made me become better at managing my time, out of necessity, as my time is limited. It has also taught me to be responsible and to prioritize. I wanted to share with you how I balance studies and work:

1. Start assignments early

I am someone who loves to be early and in time, so for me, this comes somewhat naturally. But now that I am working, I have had to put extra emphasis on starting early, otherwise, I will not be getting the grades I want. As soon as I get a new assignment and a deadline, I make an outline of the task, for example, an essay: I write down the topic, pick a few sources to read from and write down the deadline. I have a list of assignments arranged from the most urgent to the least urgent and then I work on the most urgent assignment whenever I have a free moment. I also try to break it into smaller subgoals: such as setting a goal of writing 100 words per day.

2. Stay organized

I try to be on top of everything I need to do so that things run smoothly. If I know what it is, I need to accomplish on a given day, I am more likely to get it done. There is just so much to remember, that I couldn't live without a calendar. If I have neglected writing down the classes, projects and work shifts, I feel like I have a million tabs open in my brain and I get overwhelmed. When my calendar is updated, it all seems more manageable. I wholeheartedly recommend getting a calendar and maybe a journal to write down everything on your mind so you can rest assured it is all documented somewhere where you can find it again.

3. Prioritize and delegate

As I started working, I quickly noticed I just cannot do all the things I would like to do. I needed to look at everything on my plate and decide what is a top priority and what could be postponed or done by somebody else. I had a hard time asking for help from people, but once again out of necessity I have started to do more of it and it has definitely improved my mood when I don't feel like I have to do everything by myself. My husband has been a big help and I do not think I could get as much done if it wasn't for him. So, if you start feeling overwhelmed or tired, stop and take a look at your priorities and adjust accordingly, and don't forget to ask for help. 

4. Cut yourself some slack

When you know your priorities, it should be easier to allow yourself to cut yourself some slack. If you feel overwhelmed, look at your priorities and see if there is something you could skip, postpone, drop or try and delegate. At one point in my studies, I was working as a cleaner. At first, it was fine, and I was really happy with what I was doing. But over time, waking up at 4 and working in the morning before classes, I started to feel really drained. I was thinking about how to pull this off, and balance work, studies, exercise, and my relationships. Eventually, I decided to find another job and I felt so much better after. I would advise my readers to find a job you genuinely love. I thought there would not be anything for a young woman such as myself, without a degree and with limited work experience. But right now, my job is so nice I would even do it full-time. I think this is so important to be able to balance everything. You really need to want to do it. Whatever the motivation to work while studying is, you need to keep that in mind continuously.

5. Plan for downtime

I try and plan nice things to help wind down after my work and study commitments. Usually, I read a book totally unrelated to my studies or watch some TV. Consciously planning for relaxation time helps me with getting the most out of that time. Otherwise, I might feel guilty about not doing something 'useful'. We all need some time off in order not to burn out, and scheduling time for winding down is a great way to make sure you are not stretching yourself too thin. 

6. Communicate

I have told my professors I work and the person I work for knew from the get-go that studies are my first priority. This has helped me with flexibility and communicating with my professors and my boss has helped me stay on top of things. People are surprisingly understanding if you ask for something, such as an extension for a deadline, respectfully and early enough so that adjustments can be made. I find that it works best in person. When everyone is on the same page, it is easier to make adjustments and to get some flexibility. This is especially important during final exams: I let everyone know well in advance that I am going to take an exam and that my availability is limited but that I make up for it later by being flexible to my employer's wishes. This has worked wonders and I couldn't be happier with the job I have.

Have you been working while studying? If yes, what are some of your tips for combining studying and working? I would love to hear additional tips because although I feel great about working and studying, there is always room for improvement! We can all learn from each other, so please leave a comment to let me know what you think about combining studying and working! Don't forget to share this with your friends if you think they might need some advice.

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