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Six tips for balancing work and study

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study
Male student smiling in a workspace

The option to study and work has many benefits but it also comes with challenges. Equip yourself to navigate the tough times to successfully reach your goals. Taking a little time to work through these steps will empower you to make the most out of this season of your life.  

1. Explore your workplace support

Your employer may be more accommodating than you realise. Talk about your study goals, explain how it may enhance your current position and also ask what support may be available. There are a variety of options such as employer funded training, study leave, flextime, job sharing or reduced hours. Also consider getting approval to take your annual leave in smaller chunks to cover assignment, exam or practical training times. 

2. Prioritise commitments

Accept that you will need to re-order your current activities and priorities. Be clear before you start studying on non-negotiable and nice-to-do activities. This includes re-ordering personal, family, work and social commitments. With so much on your plate, it’s okay to say ‘no’ or your reduce involvement so you can meet your goals. 

3. Use a calendar

When adding study to your already busy life, you can’t afford to rely on your memory to keep track of important dates. Create a master calendar that includes personal, professional, and academic commitments so you can easily see where your pressure points might be. Make this calendar visible to your family so you can plan around peak study times. 

4. Work smarter, not harder

When possible, use your company as a basis for assignments or research projects. Create opportunities to showcase your growing skillset as well as reduce the time and stress involved in researching unknown organisations. Many students also take time during work lunch hours for reading, assignment researching or reviewing exam notes. You may even find time to listen to lectures during your daily commute or at lunch.  

5. Manage stress levels and burn-out

Stress is an inevitable part of working and studying. It’s easy to use every spare moment to study, but it’s not an effective strategy. If your job performance or academic results begin to diminish, take action early. Reduce stress by scheduling relaxation time, otherwise you’ll feel guilty when you take unplanned time out for friends and family. To perform at your peak make sure to get enough sleep, stay physically active and enjoy hobbies or social activities. If work or family situations change, you may want to reduce your study load or take a semester off so that you don’t resent study and perform poorly.  

6. Finally, remember why you’re doing it

Create a vision board or display your goals so you can see it every day. Whenever it starts to feel overwhelming remind yourself why you are making sacrifices in this period of your life. Focus on your goals, celebrate the small milestone and remember it’s not going to be like this forever. Although it may seem overwhelming at times, other people have succeeded, and so can you! You wouldn't be tackling work and study simultaneously if you didn't have good reasons. 

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