Balancing work and school can be hard. Every student studying an adult education course knows their education is central to their future career.
It’s natural to want to throw everything at it, making sure that you get the best possible results so it will lead to the best career outcomes.
But studying does not need to come at the cost of everything else in your life.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of putting our lives on hold so we can solely focus on studying. It’s likely you’ll be balancing your education while you work, not to mention keeping time for socializing, and taking time out for yourself. Particularly if you’re undertaking adult training at a mature age, you’ll have to take into consideration an array of other commitments.
If you’re ‘always on’, trying to squeeze more out of every minute of your day, you risk not giving enough time to any of these important parts of your life.
It can lead to stress, slipping grades, money troubles, isolation and even burnout.
How to Balance Life and School
The saying goes, ‘everything in moderation’, and it certainly applies when it comes to striking a work–life balance between adult training, part-time or full-time study, family and friends.
Now is the point where you’re wondering how to balance full-time work and study, or how to balance work study and family. This is a common problem, so you can rest assured there are tried and tested balance strategies to get you through.
Read through the key points below and ask yourself if you’re leaning too far one way or the other, and how you can come back to that middle ground. Balancing your education while you work doesn’t have to be hard.
Set Boundaries for Yourself
For a successful work-life balance strategy, you’ll need to recognize your potential trip-ups and pencil in some parameters.
Are you known for partying too hard and neglecting your studies? Give yourself a night out per week, and the following day to recuperate. Restructure your week to allow for it, and you’ll be able to go out without the guilt.
Perhaps you tend to leave your assignments to the last minute, and as a result put in less effort than you could. Buy a calendar and use it well.
After receiving your next assignment in your adult training course, schedule in blocks of time to work on it, and break it down into achievable segments.
How long do you anticipate the planning to take, or the research? How about writing and referencing? When you tick off each section, you’ll know you’re right on track for the deadline.
Maybe you’re a culprit of trying to schedule all of your classes on one day, so that you have the rest of the week free to work and earn a higher income.
It’s understandable that you’ll want to be prepared to pay off your fees, not to mention get a start in life, but this might not be the best way to do it. Budgeting is key here. Perhaps you could work less and curb your other spending habits.
Part of your adult learning journey will be to find out what works for you, and everyone will have different priorities here.
Re-Evaluate Your Study Style
Too many of us are guilty of working hard, rather than working smart.
Put simply, it means we’re not being as efficient as we could be. More time spent on an assessment does not necessarily equate to a higher quality end product.
Are you spending 20 minutes here and there on your homework, having to get into the mindset all over again?
It could be that you’re procrastinating about starting an assignment—it feels like every waking hour is spent thinking about it, but you haven’t actually taken that first step to make a start.
Adult education courses require you to rethink your approach so you find that balance.
This is one of the most effective work-life balance strategies.
Perhaps you get a few short shifts at your casual job per week. Factor in the time it takes to get ready and transport, and it doesn’t equate to an efficient use of your time. Could you ask for a longer weekend shift, freeing up your weeknights for other activities?
Set goals for yourself each week, and take a few minutes to review how you went come Sunday. Self-evaluating your adult learning approach is the first step to improvement.
Focus on Your Well Being
What does well being mean to you?
Stress is one of the most common forms of negative impact on our well being, and it is important to be proactive when combating this.
However, when you are in the middle of thinking how to balance work, study and family, taking time out is easily neglected.
Identify a de-stress tool—something that you do purely for the sake of enjoyment—and make time for it.
It might be painting, or going for a run. Perhaps it’s catching up with your best friend, or watching a movie.
The time you dedicate to de-stressing directly translates to your output in your adult education courses.
You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you are when you’re in the right frame of mind. It also boosts your positivity, an essential part of remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing and staying motivated.
As with everything in life, communication is key to balancing your education while you work.
Keep everyone informed of your commitments and nine times out of ten they’ll be completely accommodating.
Your support networks are key to ensuring you achieve what you want to achieve with your adult learning, so it’s essential to keep them close.
Balancing work and school takes practice, but with time and effort the outcomes will be better than you might expect.
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Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult learning. She has developed and authored many workplace leadership programs, both in Australia and overseas.