These days a lot of people choose to go back to school for continuing education whether they’re hoping to advance in their current position or change careers entirely. Even if the latter is the case, a lot of people can’t afford to stop working in order to go back to school and take evening and weekend courses.
While continuing education is admirable and sometimes necessary, it can be a lot of work! When your job takes up 35 or more hours of your week, on top of everything else you have going on in your life, adding a few hours of classes and additional hours for homework can seem daunting. The good news is, you can balance continuing education while working! It just takes a bit of extra work and some planning ahead.
Here are a few tips to help you balance continuing education while working.
Discuss it with your Family and Friends
Whether or not you’re in a relationship, and/or have kids, chances are you have a network of people in your life – close friends, parents, siblings, etc. When choosing to take on a big responsibility like continuing education, it helps to discuss it with your family and friends. Explain why it’s important to you and how they can help you succeed.
Talk to your Employer
Taking on extra responsibilities outside of work shouldn’t directly impact your job, but if you have a good relationship with your employer or manager, it doesn’t hurt to let them know you are going back to school part-time. However, don’t think of this as a time to make excuses and slack on your day job. Instead, ensure them that it won’t affect your responsibilities at work, and then make sure to follow through.
Organize Yourself Ahead of Time
Usually, there are a few weeks if not months before the start of classes. Take this time to get your life organized because things will go a lot smoother if you have less to worry about once your workload increases. This is a great opportunity to declutter your house, take care of any naggling tasks you’ve been putting off, and just set yourself up for success!
This could also include setting up a workspace for yourself at home where you can do your homework and readings without interruptions or distractions.
Create a Schedule
Even without continuing education, schedules are great to have. And with continuing education, they’re absolutely necessary. Take the time to sit down and write out all of your responsibilities, whether they are household chores, regular errands and appointments, any extracurricular activities for yourself or a dependent, or whatever else you usually have on the go. Don’t forget to include your class times and map out when projects are due. It might look like a lot and feel overwhelming, but once you know what needs to get done, you can prioritize and schedule everything in.
Don’t Fall Behind
It’s important to keep up with your school work and readings as well as whatever else you have to do. Once you start to fall behind, it makes it that much harder to get everything done on time. That’s why it’s important to schedule everything in and don’t allow yourself to fall behind. Set aside dedicated time to do your readings each week, to go over your notes and to do the homework.
Often, when you add something to your life, you need to take something away. For example, if you usually meet up with friends for drinks once or twice a week, you might need to scale back in order to have time for your studies. That’s not to say you can’t have any fun, but it’s about prioritizing what needs to get done. You also need to be realistic about how much you can handle and what you can delegate to others.
Also, be realistic with how many classes you can handle taking at one time. If you take three, three-hour classes a week, that’s nine hours of class time, plus the commute (unless it’s an online course) plus time to do your readings and homework. Before you know it, it’s an extra 20 hours a week. If that doesn’t seem feasible, maybe take one or two courses at a time instead. It’s better to do well and take longer to finish than to rush through it and not get the most out of it.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Of course, you need to remember to take care of yourself. So often people push themselves, thinking they have it all under control until one day they get burnt out and crash. Don’t reach this point! While it’s normal to be busy from time to time, it’s not okay to be super busy all the time.
It’s possible to balance continuing education while working. It might not always be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it, especially if you take these tips into consideration.