How to Balance Work and College
BY MELISSA BURNS
Students get jobs for different reasons: for some, it is the way to earn a bit of extra cash, others do it for experience, for still others it is a matter of survival. One thing, however, remains the same no matter what your purpose is – balancing work, college and other activities can be too much. Without some determined organization effort, some parts of your life are going to suffer from neglect. There are ways to get it all to work together – and here we will talk about some of them.
1. Capitalize on Workplace and College Flexibility
Both school and business today are refreshingly flexible and open to negotiation. Talk to your boss about reduced hours or flextime. Discuss your schedule to find a variant that will satisfy both of you. Ask about opportunities like job sharing or deferred pay. Don’t be afraid to ask and make suggestions – a reasonable employer will be ready to listen, and you don’t want to work for an unreasonable one.
The same goes for colleges – many of them offer programs aimed at people with part- or full-time jobs.
2. Get Organized
If you think that with work and college you have too much on your plate, it is not because you have too much to deal with or because you are inherently incapable of doing it. It is because you are disorganized.
Note your work and study hours. Set a schedule and commit to following it religiously for the rest of your stay in college. Make sure you get enough sleep, that your place for some rest is comfortable and that you stick to the same sleeping and waking hours throughout the week – this alone can seriously influence your energy levels and ability to deal with challenges. Don’t put your plans off until tomorrow because you are too tired – tomorrow you will be just as tired, and there will be even more work to take care of.
3. Set Priorities
Decide what is really important for you and stick to this decision. If your goals are ambitious and you are physically incapable of doing absolutely everything you are supposed to do, choose what gives you most results and drop what does the least. Be ready to forgo not just less important work but fun activities as well. It doesn’t mean that you should do nothing but work and study, but you should be able to firmly choose in favor of things that bring results when it is necessary.
4. Study and Work Smarter, not Harder
There are plenty of ways to use study and work time for mutual benefit. Work situation can be a basis for an MBA project. Inevitable breaks during work can be used for short study sessions. Record your lectures and listen to them during your commute. You may call it inconvenient now, but in fact, it just means using your time to the fullest. After you get used to it, you will never believe how you could have wasted so much time before.
5. Avoid Time Sinks
Try finding a job in a location that will minimize your commuting time. Try writing down everything you do with times when you started and ended each activity accurate to five minutes. Do it for a few days, and you will be horrified by the amount of time you waste on things that should be avoided completely. Find out what your greatest time sinks are (Facebook? Gaming? Surfing the Internet? Find what is relevant in your case) and allocate limited time to them. Chances are when this time comes you won’t even want to engage in these activities.
Juggling work and college may look like a daunting, even impossible task; but trust us, millions of people do it, and you can do it too.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at email@example.com