Tips for balancing work and online study
Juggling work and study can be a difficult balancing act. In this week’s blog we give you some practical tips to help you make the most of your time.
1. Make a schedule
Time management is essential for all students, but particularly for online learning students who are managing study alongside work commitments. Setting up a weekly/monthly schedule for yourself will help to organise your time. Try to determine days and times you have free every week that you can devote to studying. Block out this time in your calendar and write down your schedule to help you stick to your plan. Share your schedule with family and colleagues so everyone knows what your focus is for that week.
2. Segregate your time
Working and studying at the same time can sometimes result in your work and leisure time becoming a bit blurred, especially if the subject you are studying is related to your job. Segregating your time will help you to clearly separate study from work. After being at work all day it can be daunting to start studying straight way, so taking a break or going for a walk can help change your mind-set. Try to avoid time-zapping activities such as watching TV or surfing the internet as these can distract you and consume too much time.
3. Create a study space
Studying online means you can access your lectures from anywhere; however, it can still help to have a dedicated study space. Having an area that is free from distractions and where you can leave your books will encourage you to study. Find a space that works for you and your study style; some students find it easier to study at their workplace after hours (but be careful that you don’t get distracted by work tasks!). Quality study time is more important than quantity.
4. Get the family involved
Managing work, study, family and social commitments is not easy and those close to you will understand this. Let friends and family know that you’re studying for a degree and let them support you. Asking a relative to look after the kids for a few hours will free up some quality study time. Even getting your children to help with everyday tasks such as taking the dog for a walk and cleaning will take some of the burden away from you.
5. Keep in touch
Keeping in touch with your classmates is a great way to stay motivated. They will understand the pressures of balancing work and study and will be able to encourage you through the tough times. When studying online you don’t have constant contact with other students so it can be easy to lose motivation but you can use technology (e.g. our virtual learning environment, social media, email, WhatsApp, Skype) to stay in touch and support each other.
6. Ask for help
Asking for help is so often the best way out of stressful situations. If you’re struggling to find a manageable balance between work and study, speak to your student adviser or tutor. The earlier you raise any concerns the better, as this allows plenty of time to create an action plan that suits your lifestyle. You won’t be the only one who has found if difficult, and support staff are there to help and ultimately want to see you do well.
7. Take time out
Studying online can be pretty intense. You determine your schedule so you don’t have to take long breaks between levels like campus-based students. Studying part-time and working takes a lot of commitment and inevitably you will have to make sacrifices to fit everything in, but remember to take time out. Taking a break will make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated and more able to face your studies.
8. Find your own balance
Finding the right balance between work and study will be different for everyone. Online students come from a range of backgrounds and everyone’s circumstances and learning style will differ. Try not to judge yourself against your peers; balance is an individual thing and everyone has to find their own equilibrium.