It is not an easy task to balance work and school as separate entities. Balancing them both at the same time is another story.
While most of us need to work a full-time job in order to pay the bills and hopefully have some finances left over, pursuing education has extreme value.
On top of balancing work and school, most of us want to enjoy somewhat of a social life and the college experience. With everything happening at the same time, it is easy to get overwhelmed, stressed, and unbalanced.
However, there is a silver lining to pursuing school while working full-time. The good thing about balancing work and school is that it is only temporary. Eventually, you will graduate and likely be able to work a job more in line with your career goals.
It’s completely worth it!
Until that glorious day, here are a few tips on how to better balance work and school (and everything in between).
Develop a Weekday & Weekend Schedule
Schedules are everything. If you struggle with staying organized and focused on your day to day tasks, create a detailed schedule.
Your schedule should contain everything you have to do in a week. This could be classes, work hours, meetings, and anything else you have to commit to.
If you have your weekday scheduled out, you can easily see where you may be stretched too thin and make adjustments.
The same thing goes for the weekend. While you may have more free time on the weekends to relax a bit, if you schedule time to work on homework, it will create more time to hang out with friends later.
In general, having a schedule is the best way to balance work and school.
Utilize Free Time to Get Ahead
Instead of allowing yourself to fall behind, work hard to get ahead. If you find that you occasionally have downtime, don’t waste it binge-watching TV or scrolling through social media. Instead, utilize that free time to get some extra homework done.
Usually being in school means there is always something to work on. Don’t put that off. The longer you wait to write a paper or complete a project, the more unbalanced and stressed your life becomes.
Avoid all of this by using your free time such as lunch breaks, time between class and work, or weekends to get ahead.
Build Your Work Hours Around School
If you work at a job that offers flexible hours, build your work schedule around your school schedule.
Since it is more difficult to get the classes you need in order to graduate, it’s easier to build your work schedule around them.
In order to do this effectively, build a relationship with your manager. As long as they understand and respect your educational endeavors, it will be easier for you to change your hours after each school semester is over.
Do Homework During Your Lunch Break
It only actually takes a few minutes to eat lunch. Instead of sitting around waiting for your hour to finish, use that time to work on homework.
Make it a habit to always come prepared with assignments to complete during your break.
If you can commit to doing homework during your lunch break, you could easily add 6 hours focusing on school work to your week. That’s a lot of time!
Work on Campus (If Possible)
The best way to make sure you have a flexible boss is to work on campus. If you can afford to get by with the part-time hours, a campus job is a great way to balance work and school.
The best part about working on campus is that your life is more centralized and focused on one important area.
Additionally, when finals week rolls around and your school schedule is all over the place, your boss on campus has no choice but to understand.
Time Block Your Day
Time blocking is an extremely valuable tool for anyone who is busy. If you’re trying to balance work and school while still maintaining other aspects of life, time blocking could be a great solution.
I personally use time blocking to help me with all the tasks I have to complete in a day, which includes going to work, completing homework for my graduate program, and grading papers for the university course I teach.
I find that time blocking helps you stay on track, focused, and accomplished on your daily goals.
If you want to know more about time blocking and how to do it, check out this article: Schedule it so it happens: the art of time blocking.
Use a Calendar (or Planner)
Similar to scheduling your weekday and weekend, a calendar, planner, or any method of choice can help you stay organized on every single thing you have to accomplish.
By practically inputting your entire life into a calendar, you can easily keep track of all your classes, work schedules, meetings, social engagements, appointments, and anything else that pops up.
A calendar is also a great reference for when you want to schedule something new. You can quickly refer to your calendar and see if you have the time or not.
I personally love to use my iPhone calendar, but there are plenty of apps to use. If you are more of a paper planner person, there are plenty of amazing planners on the market. Sometimes, I tend to use both at the same time!
To-Do List of Personal Tasks
Make time for important personal tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning.
While life may be busy when you are balancing work and school, you should always take time to keep your personal life in order. Some things are simple necessities that only take up a small amount of time to accomplish.
Instead of letting your laundry or dishes pile up, make it a weekly task to ensure that it gets taken care of. Instead of eating out every day for convenience, take the time to go grocery shopping, which will save you money and is healthier for you.
Basically, make sure you’re always taking care of yourself regardless of how busy you get.
Keep Your Desk Organized
This one may seem simple, but how nice would it be to always sit down at a clean and organized desk?
Life is too busy and messy to constantly come home to a desk piled high with clothes and junk. If the rest of your space is messy, allow for your desk to be the one space that you can be comfortable at.
Science has even done studies about how the organization of our space affects our productivity and focus on things such as homework. Do yourself a favor and just keep your desk clean.
For tips on how to declutter your desk, read: 12 Ways to Declutter Your Desk
Be Good to your Body
Nothing holds up your time like getting sick.
While sometimes we may be due for a cold, often times we can avoid getting sick by being good to our body.
Stay hydrated, exercise, eat healthy food often, get enough sleep, and practice good hygiene. All these things will do wonders to your body and help you keep going for longer.
Also, take your vitamins! There is no shame in using a supplement to get a little extra help.
Take Time for Yourself
While your main focus may be to balance work and school, life still has to happen.
If you constantly neglect yourself, your body and mind will be greatly affected by stress, burnout, anxiety, and health issues.
Do your best to avoid this by dedicating to take time for yourself. Go to a yoga class or the gym each week. Take a bath. Read. Hang out with friends. Whatever it is that you do, make sure it is a time where you can completely unplug from all your stress and focus on you.
Sometimes, in the midst of everything you have going on, you forget about you. It may sound cliche, but sometimes you have to put you and your sanity first.
Set Priorities and Say No to Everything Else
The best and easiest way to balance work and school, and everything in between, is to stay focused on your journey.
To do this, you might have to say no to people. That’s okay.
Your priorities and goals can only be achieved by your hard work and dedication to the journey. Your friends and family will understand.
Besides, if you fail, you really only let yourself down. So, stay focused on your priorities and don’t be afraid to say no to everyone else.
Yes, it is difficult to balance work and school (and life). But, it is not impossible. With some hard work and dedication, you can absolutely crush it in your balancing act.
I completely believe in you!
Best of luck.