If you’ve been reading my blog posts for the last month, I’m sure you’ve picked up that I’m working full-time as well as studying full-time. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and I thought I’d share my experience and some tips that might come in handy if you’re thinking of embarking on formal study without having to quit your job.
Just a bit of background on what I do and why I chose to study and not quit my job: I’m a Communications and Engagement Advisor for a government department. My highest qualification to date is a National Diploma in Journalism. I never finished my degree and thought I’d take three papers this semester to fill in some ‘free-time’ gaps since it’s not like I’m doing anything productive. I’m completing a Bachelor of Professional Communications and I know it seems strange that I’m studying towards a job that I’m already in but I thought it’d be a good way to help me understand my role better from an academic perspective.
So getting into it…
Firstly, there’s no sugar coating it: balancing work and study is challenging. On top of that, there’s life and its many attractions and disruptions. The key to success is planning and discipline. You’d be surprised at how much you can achieve if you take time to set out a schedule and (here’s the real challenging part!) STICK TO IT.
I’m not going to lie: I still find it super challenging but I’ve never been good at balancing, multitasking or general discipline. For those of you who are good at all of that, then it’s a piece of cake and you’re probably reading this and having a bit of a chuckle. For those of you who are like me, fret not because I’m telling you it’s doable.
I set my study schedule in my bullet journal – I plan out what I’m going to study and which activities I’m going to complete and when, what assignments are due and when I should start them. I also set a time to start studying, allocate the hours of study and try my complete best to STICK TO IT. I know it seems like a lot of effort goes into planning this out in writing, but it’s what works for me so find what works for you. It could be as simple as putting your assignment and reading schedule into your phone’s calendar.
If you know that a social gathering is coming up, plan around that. Perhaps allocate two hours of study that day and then treat the social gathering as a ‘reward’. If you find you really can’t bring yourself to stick to your planned study hours, that’s okay – shift it and study in an hour or two after you’ve relaxed and done what you need to. If you’re like me and have set TV shows you just simply can’t miss, plan around it so you don’t feel guilty about not studying when you’re supposed to.
Just because planning is one of the keys to success, doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. It’s going to be a hard time so it’s important to be kind to yourself. There are times when I want to gauge my eyeballs out and cry from the stress but I have to remind myself that I’m only human and sometimes life gets challenging and despite it all, I can do it.
So again I reiterate – planning and discipline is going to be your best friend during this challenging time. When the going gets tough, please don’t give up. STICK TO IT. After all, when you get your assignments in, get that exam done and get that passing grade, you realise it was all worth it. Well I do anyways.
Hopefully you found this post somewhat helpful. If you’re in the same boat as me, please share your secret to fulltime study/fulltime work success!