What can I do to manage my work and study combination?
If you’re considering some form of further study, then you’ve probably given serious thought to how this will fit into your already busy lifestyle. There is no doubt that gaining a new qualification while still fulfilling all your existing professional and social commitments can be a challenge. However, the rewards are likely to be worth the extra effort, particularly if you are studying with the express intention of furthering your career.
Here are our 6 top tips for a work/study combination:
- Enlist the help of family and friends - If you are serious about doing some form of study then it’s vital to have support from those closest to you. Talk to your partner, family and friends before embarking on a new course and make sure they understand why this is so important. That way, they will understand that you may not always have quite as much time for them as you would like.
- Talk to your employer - It may be that your studies are organised and funded by your employer, and it would be hoped that your current workload has been taken into consideration and provision made for training leave. However, even if you are advancing your education under your own initiative then it’s still worth letting your employer know about your plans and goals. Employers would rarely frown upon an employee improving their skills and by keeping them in the know you will receive greater understanding and support.
- Maximise your time - While at first glance it might appear that you are constantly busy, in reality, most of us have periods throughout the day where we could be more productive. A commute to work by public transport allows time to catch up on some reading. The television can also be a drain on our time, but it doesn’t have to be completely forgone. Plan your watching schedule to only programmes that interest you.
- Play to your strengths - People’s learning styles vary dramatically, so what works for someone else may not work for you. If you perform better in the morning, set aside an hour once or twice a week for studying. Students concentration span also varies so keep this in mind to maximise learning either in bite-sized chunks or longer periods. The key is to find what works for you and then plan your time accordingly.
- Create a study zone - If possible, it helps to have an area that is dedicated to studying, whether that means converting a spare room into a short study or tucking a desk into the corner of the living room. If you prefer to leave the house then, you could try a quiet local cafe or your public library. Wherever it may be, creating this distinction between study time and the rest of your day will help to engage your brain and get you in the mood for learning.
- Find a study buddy - Setting goals with fellow students can be a great way of overcoming hurdles and boosting your motivation. Making new friends is often an bonus to adult learning, and technological developments mean it is now possible for people on distance learning courses to develop such relationships via the internet. If you are considering home study, then it’s worth checking if the course provider has a virtual student community, which can effectively replicate the social environment of more traditional educational establishments.
To sum up, often the hardest thing about combining work with a study is making the decision to do it in the first place. Once you get started, you will probably find that it’s not as difficult as you’d imagined. Choosing a course that allows you to study via distance learning can also be helpful as you can work at your own pace without being tied into specific timescales. Studying doesn’t have to take over your life: just a few hours each week can make all the difference.