In an ideal world you would concentrate on your studies and nothing else. But for some students, working while studying is necessary to pay rent, bills and living expenses. If you do have to work alongside your degree there are plenty of things you can do to make sure neither your education nor your job suffers.
GSM London has put together a list of top tips to help you successfully manage working and studying at the same time.
Consider your financial position
Before you start any job while you’re in education you need to look at your finances to get a understanding of what you need to achieve. How many hours do you need to work to meet any financial commitments? And how quickly do you want to finish your course? If you want to study full-time and get your degree as quickly as possible, any work will be limited to part-time at best and will have to fit around your study obligations.
However, if you’re happy to learn at a slower pace you may be able to undertake your degree part-time and work more – it will take you longer to complete but you’ll have greater chunks of time to work which can be a better option if you have bigger financial commitments.
Learn to plan your time
Planning is the key to success when it comes to working and studying. Put all your academic and work deadlines on one accessible calendar so you can see at a glance what and when your commitments are. You’ll need to allow for last-minute work crises and overtime requests but you’ll also need to schedule in sufficient study time.
If you block off study time on your calendar, you’re far more likely to actually undertake your study at those times. It’s also a good idea to let friends and family have access to your schedule. Not only does it hold you accountable to them, it will also show them the times when you need to be left in peace to study.
Ask about workplace flexibility
Find a part-time role that fits in with your study or ask your boss about flexible hours, remote working or shared roles. If working from home isn’t an option see if there is a shift pattern that fits in with your studies more effectively.
Decide what is important to you
You’re only human and you won’t be able to do everything – something will have to give eventually. You should decide what it is most important to you and you should prioritise that. If this means turning down nights out with friends in order to complete a piece of coursework, then that will be something you just have to accept if you want to be successful.
You don’t need to work every hour to work and study effectively. You can still achieve a great study life balance by being clever about how you operate. For example, you might be able to use some of your actual work experiences or situations as a project for your degree.
You also need to maximise your down time – you could record your lectures and listen to them on your commute and use any free periods or work breaks to write notes, study and revise.
Resist time-wasting activities
If you’re working and studying at the same time you’ll quickly find the time you do have is very precious. Don’t waste time on computer games or social media – it’s easy to get sucked into these things but you can easily lose a couple of hours just browsing Facebook. Imagine how much study you could have got done in that time.
You also need to be firm with friends who may persuade you to down tools and go out instead of study. You only have a finite amount of time and much as it is nice to spend time with friends, it can put pressure on you to condense your study into a smaller, less effective period.
Don’t forget the reasons why
When you’re hard at it studying and working, it can be exhausting with little downtime to recharge your batteries. It can be easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it. Whenever you feel yourself flagging, focus on your goals and the date when it will all be over. Remember, it’s not forever and the qualifications you gain at the end of it all will be worth it.
We would like to hear from you if you have any questions about what how to manage your study life balance. You can call us on 020 3797 4687 or find visit gsmlondon.ac.uk