It doesn’t matter if you’re taking Medical Laboratory Assistant training, Early Childhood Education training or pursuing a Therapeutic Recreation (specializing in Gerontology) diploma – if you’re working at the same time, you’ll need some help to keep your head above water.
While at times it may feel like you’re an amateur trapeze artist balancing over the Grand Canyon with no net, it doesn’t have to be quite that scary. You can learn to juggle it all and steer a clear path to success, if you follow these four steps:
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
People who go back to college do so for different reasons. Maybe they’re looking for a new and more rewarding career. Perhaps job security and a better salary is the primary focus. Or maybe they just want to move up in their current field, and need up-to-date training to earn that next promotion. Whatever your reason is, it’s important not to lose sight of the goal.
When things start getting hectic, it’s easy to forget the reason you took on this challenge in the first place, and focus exclusively on the obstacles in your way. Keep your dream front and center. Write your goal on sticky notes and place them throughout your apartment, your car – your locker on campus. Make your goal statement your screen saver! Inspiration is a powerful energy-provider.
Keep Your Work and School Worlds Separate
When you are at work, you’re at work. When you’re at school, you are at school.
Don’t start thinking about homework that’s pending while you’re in a meeting with your boss. By the same token, don’t jot down notes for a report you need to send off tomorrow while you’re sitting in class tonight. This kind of multitasking might seem super smart, but you’ll end up losing on both ends – when your mind and body are in different places, important details go unnoticed. Keep the work and school focus separate.
Family, Friends and Recreation
It’s also important to carve out at least a little time for your personal life. While you may not have as much time as you’d like to spend with friends and family – or practice a hobby – taking a break from work and school is a crucial part of recharging drained batteries.
You’ll need these time-outs to stay fresh for your demanding routine. Exercise is another key element that busy students tend to put on the backburner. If you don’t have an exercise routine, you should start one – yoga or a brisk walk just fifteen minutes a day will work wonders for helping you relax and get a better night’s sleep.
Scheduling is Key
So how do you find the time to accomplish everything on your very long to-do list? The answer is simple: you schedule it. Typically, you may be a “fly where the wind takes you” type of person. And this is great when you don’t have any fixed commitments – but when you’re juggling school and work at the same time, you’ll need to pencil a few things in!
The times you have to be at work and in class are most likely pre-determined and for the most part, immovable. And so are the times you have to pick up the kids from school. At the beginning of each week, map everything out on a calendar. That way, you’ll know when to call in a favor from mom or a friend so you can prepare for a big school project – or pull an extra shift at work.
What tricks do you use to keep up with college coursework while holding down a job? Let us know in the comments.