One of the most common barriers to completing further study while working full-time is the perception that you don’t have enough time. We have found that it can be done though – even for the busiest of people. It just takes commitment, some careful planning, and the willingness to perhaps give up some activities for a short period.
Many of our clients fit full-time study in while working full-time and at first it can seem like an impossible (or downright crazy) thing to do. For many people, there just isn’t any alternative for financial reasons. Others may want to study while working to support their knowledge with practical skills, or retain their position in the workplace while studying. Regardless of the reasons for undertaking study while working, it’s important to maintain a balance otherwise you are likely to burn out. In saying that, there are some periods that you will feel like all you are doing is working or studying. This is where some pre-planning is important.
Here are our tips:
- Schedule everything: at the beginning of the semester or study period, you should receive notifications of exams, assessments and anything that needs to be handed in or completed. Record all these important dates into a wall or desk planner that is easily visible. Work out what needs to be done for each subject and schedule in time each day or week to do that. By all means, enter this into your electronic calendar, but having it on show permanently will urge you to do something towards your goals on a more regular basis. If you create a schedule at the beginning of the semester and highlight when certain things need to be done by, you’ll have a much better chance of success.
- Split up your reading: for many people, reading is time consuming and can’t be done at the last minute. I don’t know about you, but I can only read a certain amount of information that needs to be retained in one sitting otherwise I just end up with brain fog. Similar to the above point, work out what you need to read and how long you have to complete it then create a schedule that helps you understand how much reading you need to do on each day or each week. Once you have your schedule, enter it into your planner and commit to doing it so you don’t end up overwhelmed at the end.
- Maximise your commute: at one time in my life when I was studying while working full-time, I chose to catch the train so I could read and/or prepare for assessments even though I had access to free parking. Alternatively, if you must drive to work, you could investigate audio options. You can even convert PDF documents to audio files with various free online tools.
- Use your time efficiently: keep some study notes with you at all times, so that when you are faced with a wait or down time, you can slot in some reading or preparation. Even short periods of 5 or 10 minutes can help – when you’re waiting in a queue, sitting at an appointment, or even working out at the gym (on a treadmill or bike) you can create some extra reading or study time.
- Make sacrifices: while we don’t recommend abandoning all leisure activities or time spent with family and friends, there are going to be times when you need to sacrifice things. You could be the most organised person in the world, but freeing up blocks of time to focus on study will make all the difference in the long run. Think about how often you watch TV or mindlessly scroll through social media. Sometimes saying yes to a social event is an automatic response, when you could have a catch up at another time that doesn’t interfere with your study.
It’s important to be realistic and work out how you can make your study schedule work. Planning ahead and working when you’re most productive helps you to achieve more in less time. And, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan – simply make another time to catch up on what you’ve missed and keep your eye on the big prize at the end.
Are you interested in studying but unsure which path to take or course to study? If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling.