Many students decide to combine studying at college with a full-time or a part-time job. This decision has many benefits: one earns money, learns how to be more independent, and masters time management. Moreover, employers usually think highly of students that used to work during their college years. Such students are considered to be more disciplined, motivated, skilled, and organized.
However, these benefits come at a price. It’s very hard to combine college and work successfully, especially if one hadn’t worked before. You have to do everything possible to study well and remain productive at work at the same time.
Here are some tips on how to balance work and college life
📝 Plan everything
Planning is the key to a successful work-college balance. It allows you to clearly understand how much time you can actually dedicate to work, studying, and social life. Moreover, planning helps you spend your days more effectively: if you notice how much time you waste on social media, mobile games, or TV shows, it will be easier for you to change that. This also means you won’t be able to forget about something important even if you are very stressed.
Plan how many hours a week you are going to work. Experienced students recommend taking no more than 20 working hours first: this way it will be easier for you to adapt. Add your working hours to your schedule and then move on to planning your studies.
If you intend to work during your college years, you should choose your courses wisely. Pick the ones that will be useful for you and your future career, find out how many courses you need to complete a year, and focus on them. It will be much easier for you to focus only on a few important courses and this way you won’t strain yourself much.
Try planning too: maybe you can choose courses for the next semester or year already? This way you will understand your workload better and will be able to choose the right amount of working hours later.
📝 Find things that consume your time and eliminate them
Not all of us pay attention to the little things. However, these little things take most of our time. Moreover, one sometimes doesn’t realize how often they get distracted until they start paying attention to it.
15 minutes spent on social media doesn’t seem too big of a deal. However, if you do this every hour, it turns out that a few precious hours of your day are wasted on things that won’t benefit you at all. This doesn’t mean that you have to delete your Facebook account: just think about how much time you can spend there without harming your study or work process and stick to this amount of time.
To find out where does your time disappear, try writing down everything you do for a week, for example. Yes, this means everything: like “10 minutes in the bathroom”, etc. Of course, you still might miss something, but that’s okay. The main idea is to write down most of the things you do.
After you do so, look at your notes and find the main stealers of your precious time. Maybe you will realize that your attempts to take a 10-minute break every hour fail miserably as 10 minutes turn into 30. In this case. set a timer that will remind you to go back to work again.
📝 Discuss the details of your work with your manager
Most of the managers hiring students remember that they need to study and so are very cooperative when it comes to exams and tests. However, it’s always better to know in advance that this is your case and that your manager understands you are a student. You will have to change work shifts or take weekends later when the end of the semester will come: that’s why it’s so important for you to know it won’t affect your job.
Discuss this with a manager during the job interview if possible. Explain that you will need to work less during the busy periods and ask the manager if they are okay with it. Just in case.
📝 Find ways to optimize your schedule
As mentioned above, you have to eliminate your time stealers. But that’s not all you can do to save your time.
Here are some tips that can help you free more of your time:
🕑 combine studying with work: for example, if your work isn’t too busy, you can read books when you’re free. Moreover, you can listen to audio lectures while walking from campus to work and back;
🕑 if you have a few work options, choose the one that is closer to your campus: this way you’ll spend less time getting there;
🕑 if you cook your own meals, it’s better to prepare them all at once in the morning or (if you like to sleep more) in the evening before your busy day.
Of course, you too can invent your own tricks to optimize your schedule. Think about things that consume a certain amount of your time and think about how you can shorten this time.
📝 Ask for help and plan your relaxation
No matter how hard students try to combine work and studying, they can still feel exhausted and stressed from time to time. Though it is normal, you still shouldn’t leave it this way. When you feel too stressed, take a break. Find ways to relax. Ask your working friend or college counselor for some tips and advice.
Remember: it is important to plan your relaxation the same way you plan your work and studies. No one can stay productive without resting enough, that’s why you have to be sure that you’ll have at least a few periods of relaxation during your busy week.
Moreover, if you want your rest to be as efficient as possible, it has to differ from what you usually do. If you study hard, work on your computer, and then decide to switch to a TV show to get some rest, this won’t do. Take a short walk instead: it would be a great change of activity and will help you relax more.
📝 Like what you do
It is nearly impossible to stay positive and energized while combining work and studying if you don’t like what you do. Choose a work that seems more pleasant and comfortable to you: for example, if you dislike talking with people a lot, work at a coffee shop probably is not your dream job at all.
It’s also good to choose courses that really interest you: studying is much easier when you have enough inspiration and interest in a subject. Remember: you are doing things that are important for your life and future career; you’re shaping your future right now, not wasting your time on useless paperwork. Attitude matters and so the more positive your attitude is, the better.
Though combining work and studying isn’t easy, it isn’t unbearable too: many students live like this and are satisfied with the result. If you work on finding the right balance between college assignments and working hours, you’ll succeed too and improve your personal qualities greatly. Do everything you can to get better at this and soon enough you will notice how disciplined and motivated you’ve become.