Deadlines sneak up on you like a bad habit: one minute you have four weeks to finish an assignment, the next minute it’s due tomorrow. Finding a balance between work and school can seem an impossible task. Between your work schedule and your school schedule, it looks like your assignments are going to be completed in the wee hours of the morning because “there’s no time during the day.” Luckily with a few simple changes, you will hopefully never find yourself in this situation again.
Make a schedule and stick to it
This can seem silly, you already have a term schedule, and you get your work schedule every week. But if that boring scheduling was working for you, you wouldn’t be reading this article. The easiest thing to do is use the calendar on your phone or get an agenda from the union shop and write out your class times, the due dates of assignments, and exam dates. Chances are you know enough about your work schedule that you can pinpoint some - not all - of the times that you know you will have free-from-work time that you can devote to studying.
The app My Study Life can track your class times, assignments and homework. You can use it to keep on track, to see your progress on projects, and it gives you a countdown to deadlines. You can create another “class” in the app devoted to studying and completing projects. Having all this written down in just one place that you can always reference to, will provide you with the tools so you may find it easier to stick to your plans.
Setting limits might be the most important way to succeed in the work/school balance. If you’re working too much and saying yes to extra activities, you will end up burned out and behind. Don’t be afraid to say no to plans, helping, or working extra times when you know it will place to much stress on you. So try to limit your work schedule to 20 hours per week.
Tell your boss when you can and cannot work and stick to those times. It can be hard, and it’s awkward and uncomfortable telling your boss that you can’t work a specific day/shift. But you will get through it. Each semester, when you receive your class timetable, meet with your boss to discuss the days and shifts you can work. Follow this up with an email reiterating what you discussed and outline your exams dates. So your boss will have something to reference to regarding your availability when needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help can seem like a sign of weakness. But when you are overwhelmed and unable to cope, it is actually a sign of strength. The people around you want you to succeed and are there to help. So, if you’re in a situation where you can’t quite keep up, don’t be afraid to lean on your support network.
Get enough sleep
You may think that skipping a few hours of sleep to get your assignments done isn’t that bad. In reality, not getting enough sleep makes you more agitated and less able to effectively handle the days’ stressors. You will find your focus wanes far more easier and quicker and you won’t be able to retain information as efficiently. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep on average will do you and your mind not to mention the quality of your work- a world of good!
Find a way to de-stress
The quickest way to burnout is not to have an outlet for your stress. Find something you love to do and set aside time to do that every week. Finding an outlet for your stress will provide you with the energy you need to balance the pressures of demanding work and school schedules. For example, physical activity is known to release serotonin, which helps your body manage stress. But if working out isn’t your thing, you can try mindful meditation. It has been shown to reduce stress levels and can be done in as little as 3 minutes a day.
Prioritize your “school-work”
View your time at school like a job; you’ve paid to be there, so dedicate that time to school and not to scrolling through social media or watching YouTube or Netflix. Dedicate your time to completing assignments and studying for your next test. If you’re bound and determined to get some screen time, download Quizlet and make some flashcards for your next test.
Small changes make a significant impact on your productivity. Keeping yourself on a schedule, treating your time at school like your time at work, asking for help when you need it and making the most out of your time between classes will bring you ahead of the game in no time.