Author: Hannah Edwards (Careers Portal)
Working and studying at the same time can help you gain a sense of independence and responsibility, but it also requires considerable time management skills. You may feel pressured to complete your college tasks on time, make a living and enjoy your college years, but it’s essential that you find a balance if you want to avoid getting burned out. Here are some tips that may assist you in achieving success in both areas of your life.
You need to determine which tasks are most important to you and put those at the top of your list. At college or university, you will have a lot of deadlines to meet, such as exams, assignments, and presentations. But for many, it is also a time to socialise, make new friends or join societies or sports teams. You’ll need to decide what is the most important to you – getting good marks, working more shifts, or socialising.
By deciding which tasks are most important to you, you can decide how much time to devote to each activity. Over time, your priorities may change slightly. For example, during term time you may be able to prioritise working a few more shifts, but during exams, your studies may need to take preference. Adjust your priorities accordingly to avoid having to pull all-nighters before a big exam.
Keep a schedule
Your calendar is going to be your best friend. It is much easier to balance your commitments when you can see them planned out in front of you, this way you can avoid overscheduling yourself. You can use various organisation and scheduling apps on your phone, a physical planner or a more traditional calendar depending on what works best for you.
With your work shifts and assignments written out in front of you can clearly see when you have free time and plan appropriately. Remember to schedule some free time as well – your mind and body need rest too.
It is always best to be honest with those around you and it can be extremely helpful if your boss is aware of your work-study situation and your level of flexibility. If possible, it is a good idea to find a job that allows you to choose your shifts, such as waitressing or bartending. Let your employer know that you are a student and what your schedule and assessment timetable looks like.
If you’re finding that your schedules are interfering and you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, it is a good idea to inform your boss and your lecturers so that you can make a plan if possible. If your employer doesn’t understand your situation, you may want to explore other options.
Stay focused on your goals
Remind yourself of why you’re doing this and focus on what you aim to achieve from this. Whether you’re saving up to pay off your studies or just want some experience to add to your CV, always keep your “why” in mind. Also remember to be proud of yourself, because making time for both part-time work and your education isn’t easy. Celebrate the small wins, even if that’s just completing an assignment a day early or managing to squeeze in some time with friends.
Make time for yourself
To avoid burnout, it is important that you take some time for yourself every now and then. How are you supposed to perform your best at work and in your studies if you’re not getting enough sleep? Something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep can go a long way in making you feel more energised and productive in your daily tasks. It is important to take time out of your day to do things that you enjoy. Whether that’s reading a book, watching your favourite show on Netflix, or going for a walk in the fresh air. We all need to unwind and destress after a busy day. Remember to make time to socialise and spend some time with people close to you too. Perhaps that’s just meeting for a quick coffee before your work shift or fitting in an evening walk and chat. While it’s easy for us to fall victim to “hustle culture”, you shouldn’t neglect your own well-being in the process.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are struggling to balance your commitments, many people will be willing to help you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you can reach out to a friend, family member, academic advisor or even a professional therapist. Remember that you don’t need to be able to do everything all the time. You need to be realistic and some days you’re just not going to be able to tick off everything on your to-do list. Remind yourself that you’re only human and give yourself some grace.
While you may feel as though you’ve taken on too much, if you stay organised and schedule wisely, you should be able to achieve a more positive work-life-study balance. Next time you feel overwhelmed with everything you’ve taken on, try to take a step back and remind yourself of why you’re doing this and always ask for help should you need it.
To find more advice for students, study options and important information on places to study such as Oxbridge Academy, head to The Careers Portal.