At first glance, it does not seem easy. But studying and building a career is common practice for many. About 65 percent of undergraduates have work experience. And not always relevant to the chosen specialty – sometimes, a stable income is more important.
You don’t have to give up on your education if you’ve already acquired a profession. A survey of 70,000 developers on the Stack Overflow website showed that 38% of respondents who are mastering programming have a college degree. Of course, it can be scary to go to school after 30 or 40, but there are success stories at a mature age as well.
People also fear combining jobs because they risk a lack of time – for family, hobbies, and regular sleep. It seems that when you take on both studies and work, you cannot succeed in either one. It is realistic to cope with the difficulties if you approach the organization of this challenging period of life wisely.
How to combine work and study
1. Negotiate a flexible schedule at your school
If you are a student, try to switch to an individual class schedule or even switch from full-time to part-time studies. University officials may be willing to accommodate you when you are already working in your field of study.
Some online schools and courses also allow you to study on an individual schedule. You will master the material on your own at a convenient time and submit your homework to a supervisor for review. This option requires more discipline, but you can study whenever you want. For example, you can check in the early morning while your classmates are asleep or during your lunch break at work.
2. Share your plans with your employer.
This tip is relevant if you want to pump up your skills. In that case, the employer will not likely put obstacles in his way. Tell them you will be busy with courses or classes on a particular day. Take the initiative more often – for example, take on more tasks when there is no high study load.
And if you’re looking to leave the company or retrain completely, focus on the emotional “compass” of your relationship with management. Your decision will probably not be welcomed on a team with an environmentally friendly atmosphere. But if you continue to work responsibly and be involved, they may be willing to accommodate you in matters of time off and vacations.
3. Make a realistic schedule
A clear plan will help you stay on top of deadlines and make time for time off. But it’s important to remember that people are evil at predicting the time it takes to complete tasks. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, in his book, Think Slowly…Decide Fast, gives two reasons. First, it is difficult for a person to objectively assess how much time was spent on similar tasks in the past. Second, he does not consider the difficulties that slow down the work when making a plan.
To plan correctly, you must not only estimate in your head the deadline but also measure precisely how many hours it takes to complete the tasks. Remember that you can’t work nonstop – there will always be breaks to pour tea, check your mail, or have a word with your colleagues.
Try different scheduling options to find the one that works for you. For example, there’s the popular 1-3-5 method. Allocate up to nine tasks daily and do them in order of importance. One is the main one, let’s say to prepare a quarterly report at work. Three are less important:
- Put together a presentation on an educational project.
- Have a meeting with a client.
- Listen to a lecture.
And the other five are the little things you need to attend to whenever possible: fill out a duty schedule, send a letter, and so on.
You can make energy lists – assigning tasks according to the effort needed to complete them. After all, sometimes, a small job requires more moral resources than a voluminous one. When you feel full of energy, take on the most difficult tasks.
4. Ask your loved ones for help.
Tell your family about your goals and discuss how to achieve them together. For example, your partner can temporarily take over some of your household chores like cleaning or cooking. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have help from your elders – grandparents can take the grandkids to class or walk the dog if they live close to you.
Delegating responsibilities will also help with planning. For example, to avoid household tasks, you can make a schedule and write who is responsible for what. Try to take into account each other’s preferences. If one of the households can not stand scrubbing floors, offer an equal alternative. For example, vacuuming or cleaning plumbing. Children can also be involved in taking care of the house. A small child is capable of folding their toys, while a teenager can take out the trash and clean up after their pet.
Don’t forget to spend time with your family. Your personal life helps you recharge and find the energy to combine work and study. For example, set aside one or two evenings a week that you are guaranteed to devote to your home life. Make a list of exciting things to do and suggest that your loved ones choose their leisure time together.
5. Don’t practice multitasking.
You will have to accept that it is impossible to do everything. Multitasking is an illusion; in reality, your brain switches from one job to another. This increases the likelihood of making a mistake. You may not notice it when you listen to music while walking or cleaning with the TV’s sound on. But the more concentration the tasks require, the greater the negative effect of trying to combine them can be. That’s why prioritizing is essential – there should be time for your studies and work.
Do things consistently. If you find it difficult to concentrate, use time-management techniques. One of the most famous is Pomodoro. It suggests that you work in sessions of 25 minutes and then take five-minute breaks. After four such intervals, the rest period can be increased to half an hour.
6. Get rid of activities that steal time
Check how much you sit on social networks: it’s possible that instead of the expected 15 minutes, it will be 2-3 hours. Learn to say “no” to unnecessary things. For example, gently say no to a colleague who is constantly asking you for help but disappears when you need to help out. Or mute the entryway chat room, where unfamiliar people have been discussing unimportant problems for hours.
Some studies show that office workers work less than three hours daily. Try writing down what you spend your time on for a few days and analyze the results. Maybe there are some things you don’t have to do – say, joining in on the part of calls that don’t require your active participation.
If you find it difficult to say no to other people, offer an alternative. For example, if the boss asks you to join an important project, take only the part of the work that you have time to do. And postpone the meeting with your friend to a time when you’ll be less stressed – for example, to pass exams or prepare a quarterly report.
7. Plan vacations.
Do not try to fill your diary with work and studies only – you are a human being who sometimes needs to relax. Plan things that make you feel good: go out with friends or read a book. Include in your routine activities that do not require a high concentration level. For example, go for a short walk in the middle of the day, for 20-30 minutes, without music or podcasts.
Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout, state that a person should devote 10 hours a day to rest. This time includes sleep, physical activity, socializing with loved ones, and eating quietly – running or watching TV doesn’t count. And it’s also essential to set aside at least half an hour for something personal: morning rituals, chats with friends, and anything else you enjoy.
8. Try to move around more.
When study and work responsibilities pile up, it’s easy to forget to exercise. This can make you feel worse, which will eventually affect your productivity. Exercise affects what’s called brain plasticity – it stimulates the growth of new neural connections between cells. If a busy schedule does not allow you to go to the gym, exercise at home. You can look for yoga, fitness, and dance cardio programs. Many do not require equipment, and you can train at a convenient time.
What kind of work can you combine with your studies?
Generally speaking, any job. It’s okay for college students to work as a freelancer, write articles, or design websites to order. If you are confident in their knowledge of academic subjects, consider tutoring. The first students you can look for among friends who have children, schoolchildren. And if you need hourly employment, a job as a courier or waiter will do.
It is easier for essay writer online professionals to choose courses or schools immediately, focusing on their work schedule. A remote job will help save time – you will not have to spend precious hours on the road. If the company provides such an opportunity, it is worth taking advantage of it, at least partly. For example, I work from home on days of additional classes and come to the office for important meetings and appointments. If it is challenging to combine a full-time job with your studies, consider part-time work or a reduced rate. But it is better to exclude night shifts at all – getting enough sleep before classes is essential. Otherwise, their effect of them will tend to be zero.