Balancing Work and School

5 Tips on How to Balance Work and School

January 6, 2022 | 6 Min Read | Written by Katrina Thornton

Chalkboard drawing of scale balancing work and school

Finding the right balance between work and school is essential for success. Your life as a college student will involve more than just going to classes. You may choose to get involved on campus or work part-time or even full-time. Or maybe you have an established career and a family to support.

The good news is working while pursuing your education is possible and practical. The skills you learn in your degree program can be applied to your career. Check out these 5 tips to help you balance work and school and stay successful in both.

1. Create a Dedicated Study Space

Whether you choose to study at a desk or the kitchen table, having a dedicated space to study is important to maintain productivity. Use this space and your study time to only study. So if you're studying at the kitchen table, don't sit at the same spot during meal times.

Also, keep clear of distractions during your study time. Turn off your phone notifications, don't eat meals while studying, and use noise-canceling headphones. Keeping your study area clean and organized can also help you stay productive.

2. Become a Master of Your Time

Master your time and schedule everything! Scheduling your life may seem like a bit much, but keeping to a schedule can help you become more productive in and out of the classroom. You'll find that scheduling your day will help you prevent procrastination at work, school, and even home, and you may even see your work quality improve.

Scheduling your time also helps you set boundaries, keeping your work, school, break, family, and personal times separate. This means no working while you're on school time and no school while you're with your family. This way you can stay connected with your family and friends while pursuing your degree and building your career.

3. Take Effective Breaks

Ok, yes, you could consider this tip as part of scheduling your time. But breaks are very important to avoid burnout, with studying and with work. Here are just a few ways to get the most out of your break times:

  • The 52-17 Rule

    For every 52 minutes of studying, take a 17-minute break to refresh, recharge, and refocus. Use your break time to stretch, step outside for some fresh air, or grab a healthy snack. Do this at work too!

  • The 20-20-20 Rule

    This rule helps combat eye fatigue in our digital world. For every 20 minutes of looking at a computer (or mobile device), look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Use a timer to remind you to take your 20-second breaks.

  • Power Naps

    Take power naps during your down time—the time of day when you feel sluggish—typically later afternoons. Drink a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea, lay your head down, and close your eyes for 25 minutes. Once you wake up, the caffeine will kick start your productivity.

4. Tap Into Your Support Network

Ask your partner, extended family, or a close friend to help with the housework or other obligations to free up your time for studying. It could be as simple as asking a friend to pick up your grocery order or having your roommate or partner cook dinner. A little help goes a long way.

Your support network can do more than just help with chores and other life obligations. They can also listen. You may come across a topic while studying that you can't quite understand or get bogged down with a presentation design. Talk about these with your friends and family, and even coworkers. Someone may be able to offer some insights and ideas. And if not, then at least you talked through it, and who knows? Maybe that's just what your brain needs to start working on a solution.

5. Consider Online Classes

While online classes require more time management, they also offer the flexibility most people need when working, especially if working full-time. Some in-person degree programs even offer online classes. Online degree programs offer even more flexibility with all online classes.

With online classes, there's no physical campus to visit; you can learn from the comfort of your own home. It's also a great idea exchange platform to interact with others across the country and maybe even the world, offering networking opportunities with people you would not normally have the opportunity to interact with.

Getting to the Point

Going to school is a big decision, whether you're a first-time student, returning to finish your bachelor's degree, or looking to earn a graduate degree. Your path is your own, and asking for a little help from others will go a long way in helping you reach your goals.

Though these tips for balancing work and school can help you stay productive, it's important that you also take care of yourself. Mental and physical health also play an important role in keeping you productive and helping you reach your goals. And use your breaks wisely!

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