Thursday, September 24, 2015

Balancing Work and School

If you aim to expand your knowledge of an area that interests you, learn a new language, or enhance your repertoire of professional skills, you’ll need to dedicate time and effort to that endeavour in order to make significant progress. But if you work full hours, and particularly if you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your startup, your spare time is probably scarce. Thus, you’ll need to focus on managing whatever time you do have, while always devoting your full attention to the task at hand.

Take the following considerations into account.

Don’t underestimate the time commitment.

Even part-time schooling often involves homework or extra-curricular assignments. When you’re considering night school or part-time skills training, be honest with yourself: depending on the frequency of the sessions, you may need to set aside 10 hours per week or more. Unless you’re confident that your schedule can accommodate that, you may want to hold off on your academic or vocational ambitions for now, or contemplate auditing a course rather than registering as a full-fledged student. Aim for one course at a time, especially if the experience of trying to balance work and school is new to you.

Online courses may be more opportune from a time perspective, although you’ll perhaps have to forgo the considerable benefit of discussion with instructors and fellow students.

Let your boss and/or team members know what you’re up to.

If your boss and/or colleagues in the office are aware of your situation, they may be sympathetic and enable you to adjust your work schedule around your studies. If the skill you hope to cultivate is relevant to your current position, your boss may even be willing to help you with tuition. (You shouldn’t count on this, though.)

Even if you are the boss, be sure to communicate proactively with your team so that they know when you’ll be away from the office and why. Your studies may require you to leave early or arrive late on certain days; identify a team member to whom you can delegate the responsibility of holding down the fort while you’re away.

Get the most out of your time by planning and organizing in advance.

Set aside dedicated blocks for homework assignments, and isolate yourself from distractions like social media and your smartphone during those periods. Make lists of the assignments you need to accomplish, and populate your homework-area in advance with all the tools and materials you need. This will save you the trouble of hunting around for the requisite items while you’re trying to get work done.

You may experience some late nights/early mornings, especially if you have an exam or deadline coming up. Even if your studies occasionally keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, make sure you still get enough sleep during the week to maintain your performance at work. Avoid procrastination (the midwife of all-nighters) by budgeting your time, and get cracking on major tasks right away.

Reach out to classmates and instructors.

One of the most effective ways to fully grasp and retain information is by discussing it with others; you have to have some awareness of a topic before you can have a serious conversation about it. Group discussions also afford you the opportunity to explore areas where you feel your knowledge is inadequate.

Make use of the resources at your disposal within the educational institution, including your instructor’s office hours and contact information. These tools can save you time and energy, and help to make the learning process more fruitful and enjoyable.