A few years ago I decided to start studying again after leaving uni fifteen years before. To be honest it was tough for me to find ways to balance school and work as I was still working fulltime as an Accountant.
In this post, I will try to share my experiences on how I managed to balance the two. Hopefully, I can help someone who is also considering to combine studies and work.
Some of the lessons I learned that time may actually help other students who are not necessarily combining work and studies.
Studying by its very nature can be a stressful period especially if you are doing it a decade or so after leaving work. Because the fact is we study because we have to and not necessarily that we love doing it.
Don’t get me wrong here, I like my profession and what I was studying but I hate the idea of examinations.
I wish they were another way of testing students other than having to put them in a room and having them answer questions within a specified time. Not all people who fail their exams are dull.
I also wish there was a different test for those of us who are already in the field doing the work. We are already conversant with our profession we only go back to school to get a paper to confirm what we already know.
So our struggles to juggle work demands and studies has to be taken into account in assessing us.
In my case, I did well in my studies against all odds as it was a really tough time for me physically and psychologically. I still remember leaving the office to head to the library and leaving the library at midnight to head back home
Ways To Balance School And Work
Below are a few ways to help you balance scool and work
1. Create A Schedule and Stick To It
As they say, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. If you want to succeed in balancing school and work, you need to plan your time properly. And you should not just plan but make sure you stick to it.
I remember during the time that I was studying, there were days when I felt like not studying but I forced myself to go to the library. It was tough but I was determined to finally become a qualified accountant.
My schedule could be different from others as we all have different needs. In my case, I decided that I would be studying from Sunday to Thursdays.
I spent the whole day Sunday away from home in a library. On the other days, I would leave work at 1700 hrs and have a walkabout first and then go to the library at 18:30 to start studying.
I decided to add the walkabout as a way to rest a bit after a grueling day at the office. I needed to refresh myself first. Otherwise, I would struggle to study with mind still at work.
I would, therefore, urge anyone who is working and studying to have at least 45 minutes of rest after work before commencing your studies.
When it came to going to class, I was fortunate that my employer gave me time off for the classes. I, therefore, did not have to worry about work at that time.
If the classes were in the morning I would go to class first and then in the afternoon I would go to work. There were also days when I was in class the whole day.
For that I would always be grateful to my employer as many others are not so lucky.
On the days I spent the whole day studying I would rest a bit after classes before going to the library.
2. Find A Way To Remind You of Your Ultimate Goal In Studying
We all have different ways of making ourselves motivated but putting the ultimate goal in your mind always is a very powerful motivator. I know of people who put stickers in the toilet, refrigerators to remind themselves of their goal.
It is that goal that will keep you on track when you are exhausted and are about to give up.
In my case, my goal was to be a qualified accountant. And even though I did not use any techniques to remind myself of it, I still kept it on the front of my mind every day.
I remember there were days when I felt like giving up but then the thought that giving up would be giving up on my long time goal helped me to carry on.
I said to myself that it is better to bear short term pain for the long term benefits I would experience as a qualified accountant.
It is the same motivation that helps athletes to put in the hours of training pushing themselves beyond the limit. This is because they look forward and can visualize the ultimate goal of receiving a medal.
This is what makes them wake up every morning to train. Without that, they would not bother to push themselves hard. It is the goal that keeps them going.
“The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” – Les Brown
3. Avoid Burnout During Your Studies
While some of us have to push ourselves to study there are some who overdo it. I have seen people who work so hard that they have to forego some sleep. They work so hard that their bodies feel it and show it.
I have seen students who work so hard that they have to use drugs just to keep awake. While they may not feel the side effects of such a lifestyle it is only a matter of time before the body says enough is enough.
Stress can cause all sorts of lifestyle disease that can potentially incapacitate or kill us. Therefore no matter our goals we need to find time to rest.
If you cannot do this you may end up not enjoying the benefits of your sweat.
It is fine to work hard but don’t kill yourself in the process. It is not worth it.
The reason why I had time to rest between classes and studying and on Friday and Saturday was that I need to refresh. I needed time to recharge the batteries as it were.
Like any machine the body needs to rest after work. It is how we were created.
Those that believe know the fact that God instituted the Sabbath as a time for his people to rest. A time when a man has to rest from all work and focus on God.
Related Posts: How To Live Your Best Life
4. Find a Study Partner Who Also Has To Balance School And Work
Another way to keep yourself motivated is to find a study partner, especially someone who shares your experience of work and study. It is such partnerships that can help you when you are down.
I remember during the time I was studying I had one such partner. If for any reason I was away from the library, I knew I would get a call looking for me.
This, therefore, kept me going as I did not want to disappoint my buddy. Someone who had to juggle family, work, and study like me.
Even companies know the importance of partnerships and they will in our modern-day find a way to refresh teams and partners for that reason. They know the impact that partnerships due to success.
Another benefit of a study partner is that you can help each other academically too. If you are stuck in your studies you can ask for help from your partner. In the same way, you too can help your study buddy too.
I remember my study buddy was very good one subject that I was poor and he helped me as we prepare for exams.
5. Sometimes You May Have To Pick One or The Other – Work or Study
During your studies, there may come a time when you have to choose or the other, work or study. If during your studies you see that the balancing act is not working then you need to drop one.
I have a person I know who had to miss a whole year of study so that he could focus on work. He, therefore, suspended his studies and just worked for a year and later left work to go back to study.
It was tough for him as he had a family to take care of and also studies. He, therefore, decided to go away so that he could make enough money to cover the time he would be away from work.
People are different, some can combine study and work but others cannot.
You, therefore, need to realistic about your situation and make decisions that work for you. The world would still be there so no need to pressure yourself too much.
6. Get Rid of Any Distractions
When you are trying to balance school and work you cannot afford to have too many distractions.
If you are like me and are addicted to the television, maybe it is time to give more power to your spouse and let her control the remote control. To be away from the silver screen was really tough for me. I am used to watching tv every day.
I somehow had to be away from all that while I was studying. To me, that was easy as I was studying away from home all the time. I therefore I avoided the temptation to watch the news on the television.
I had learned my lesson from my previous studies when I was studying at home and failed to study without having the television on. I, therefore, determined that for this particular course I had to study in a library and not at home.
You too can find a way that works for you. We are all different.
To avoid any family disputes, I would advise that whatever you decide you need to discuss this with your family. In most cases, they will be supportive of your decisions and will be there for you.
In my case, I had to discuss with my wife issues related to our child. Fortunately, she agreed to be responsible for picking her up from school and preparing her for bed while I was away studying.
Without her support I would not be where I am now.
Another distraction that I had to endure being away from was watching soccer. This was really tough. I like soccer with a passion.
And I tried as much as possible to be away from it for the most part. However, they were still days when I still had to watch a few minutes of some games online in a library on my phone.
There is nothing perfect in this world so you may not always be faithful to your goals
Related Post: Goal Setting Quotes
7. Have Some Fun Too
There is a saying that goes, all work and no play makes John a dull boy. You need to create time for some fun during this time.
If you are just studying and not doing anything fun you will go crazy. Thank yourself on some days by letting your guard down and have some fun.
If you are a sports fan attend at least a game once a month. Be away from your books and just enjoy it.
This will help you to refresh and when you restart your studies you will be in tip-top form.
Look at the footballers or basketball players. They too are sometimes put on the bench for some games to rest them for important games.
It works in sports and it will certainly work for you too.
If you are not a sports fan you can take your family for some quality family time. You can go to the zoo which will be such a treat for your children.
Related Post: What To Do When You’re Bored (21 Things)