Top 10 Tips for Balancing Work and School

Top 10 Tips for Balancing Work and School



By Kerry Knapp
Monster Contributing Writer

According to Statistics Canada, 72% of students hold part-time jobs while going to school. No wonder, with today’s high tuition fees! But combining education and employment is not for everyone, and balancing the two can be tricky.

To make it a little easier, here are my top 10 tips for balancing work and school.

1. Develop a plan of attack. How many hours do you need to work to meet your financial commitments? Do you want to get through your studies as quickly as possible, or are you the slow and steady type? Think about your personality, goals and responsibilities, and develop a realistic plan for making it happen.

2. Take advantage of workplace flexibility. Ask your boss about flextime or reduced hours. Take advantage of programs like deferred pay, leaves of absence or job sharing. Find a part-time schedule that fits your needs. Is working from home an option?

3. Capitalize on school flexibility too. More and more universities are tailoring services to workers’ schedules via night and weekend classes, extended library and bookstore hours and kid-friendly study halls. Some courses are even taught online or on television.

4. Prioritize. Decide on your priorities and accept that something, somewhere, will have to give—and not just the housecleaning. Expect to take a pass on the occasional outing or weekend away. With so much on your plate, you can’t do everything.

5. Schedule proactively. Mark upcoming professional and academic deadlines on a single calendar. Plan for sudden work crises and last-minute overtime requests. Block off enough study time so you can adjust if necessary. Communicate your schedule to friends and family.

6. Work smarter, not harder. Kill two birds with one stone by using an actual work situation as an MBA or marketing class project. Cram in extra study time by writing study notes on index cards, taking them along, and studying in small intervals instead of longer time blocks. Tape lectures and listen to them during your daily commute. Do homework during spares rather than in the evening.

7. Avoid time wasters. Arrange to work and take classes as close to home as possible to cut down on transportation time. Learn to say “no” to black holes that suck up your time and energy. (Facebook? Guitar Hero? You know what I’m talking about!)

8. Manage stress levels. Stress is an inevitable part of being a student and a worker, so learn how to keep it in check. Take regular breaks, get enough sleep, stay physically active, get out into the great outdoors and let yourself enjoy some of what life has to offer.

9. Watch for signs of burn-out. If your job performance or academic results begins to flag, take action. Falling asleep in class, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, losing interest in your job or studies or becoming irritable and unable to concentrate are important warning signs.

10. Finally, remember why you’re doing it. You wouldn't be tackling work and school simultaneously if you didn't have good reasons. Although it may seem overwhelming at times, other people have succeeded, and so can you! Focus on your goals and end date whenever it starts to feel like too much.