It’s no joke when it comes to balancing school and work. It can be difficult, and I have a hard time myself. How do any of us do it? Sheer willpower of course! As true as that may sound, there’s more to it than sheer willpower.
Set aside a schedule.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How can I set aside a schedule if I’m already having trouble keeping track of one? Well, that’s the thing! You don’t need to keep track of one to make one. After all, that’s why you need one in the first place.
One of the biggest common mistakes I’ve made when I’ve started working while I was in school was assuming I had no time to do anything. I just made it all up as I went. Seriously. Believe me when I say this but, this was the quickest way towards burning out and not a great use of your time.
Even if you’re working a 9 to 5 and attending classes for 3 hours most evenings, setting aside a schedule can help you stay flexible. Say, for example, you know you have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays after work. Plan to have at least 2 or 3 hours of the dedicated time the other evenings to get your school work done. If you end up working overtime, stay flexible and move your time around. Trust me, don’t cram everything into a single sitting, you’re only asking for trouble.
Having things planned out and written down even if they don’t go according to plan already sets you up for commitment.
Which one comes first?
The question that I’ll always struggle with, which one comes first? Should I focus on school work first? Or my professional work? If you’re already working a 9 to 5 job, that question is already answered. If you’re freelancing, however, your choices highly depend on many variables.
The secret weapon here is, prioritizing. Which deadlines are the closest? Which are the furthest apart? Picking and choosing your battles one by one will prevent you from going crazy. Sometimes you may even have to go into doing two different things at a time but stay organized. Don’t spend to much time on one task, instead, split your time.
Much like the schedule I’ve mentioned stay flexible but also understand how to prioritize what you need to do. Take into consideration how much time you have. What task takes up the most time? What’s due sooner rather than later? It’s all about finding that perfect formula between everything you need to balance.
Take a break.
I am very guilty of not doing this, and it can be hard when you’re caught up in the moment. Have you ever worked on something and wondered for hours why it just wasn’t working until you came back to it later? Taking small breaks every hour or so gives your brain a chance to relax and recover. If you sit and stare at the same word all day, eventually it’ll begin to move. Leaving it alone and coming back gives you a fresh perspective. So go on, go out with friends and get yourself distracted a bit. You’ll never know what you might end up figuring out while you’re out. Our brain, after all, is very good at solving problems sub-conscientiously.
Most importantly, sleep.
Ah yes, sleep. Something that we can all enjoy and feel guilty about when we have too much when there are things to be done. We all know that sleep, in general, helps our productivity. So why not make time for a nap? If you are tired all the time, you’re consistently pushing yourself to the limit.
Have you ever held a glass of water for a long time? After a while, you can feel the difference in how light it used to be. The same way works for us mentally. Give yourself a chance to recover and tackle it full force the next day. Don’t feel guilty, instead, tell yourself you are resting so you can work at a much better pace.
Just because you’ve read through this blog doesn’t mean you’ll find the perfect balance between school and work. Take everything I said like you’d take a grain of salt. These are just some suggestions based on my personal experience. Everyone is different. Figure out what works best for you. Most importantly be aware of what you’re doing. We often forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture when we’re caught up in the moment.