Studying for a degree is much like having a full-time job – you’re expected to commit around 35-40 hours a week to it. But if you’re juggling your studies with family life, whether it’s looking after small children, battling with teenagers or caring for an elderly relative, it can quickly become stressful unless you deal with it proactively and make plans.
Achieving a great study life balance is vital for your physical and emotional wellbeing because if you get it right you’ll be able to function better, enjoy family time more and be more productive when you are studying.
How to balance studies and family life
You can’t do everything at once, so you need to decide what tasks are important and what can be left for another day. A great way of doing this is to divide a piece of paper into four sections. Label the two sections across the top important and not important and the two sections down the side urgent and not urgent, then fill in your different tasks where you think they should go. Anything in the important and urgent box takes priority but tasks that fall into not important and not urgent can wait until another day.
Maximise your time management
Work out how many hours of study you need to do and when you need to go to into college to study. Block that time out and share your diary with your family so they know when you’re not available. It also makes it much easier to organise childcare or school runs once you know where you have to be and when.
Studying can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you look at it as a whole. But if you break it down into smaller chunks and set realistic deadlines it’s much easier to get through it. If you only have 20 minutes to spare, concentrate on one chapter of a book or one small part of a topic – it’s better to learn a little at a time than get scared off by the entirety of the task or worse still, not do anything at all.
Create a work zone
You’ll work far more effectively if you have a specific area in your home you can devote to your studies. If you have a separate office you can use, this is ideal. But if not, try and create a space where you can store all your materials and have some peace and quiet.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. If you need a babysitter or someone to pick up the kids then ask them. They know you’re studying and they will be happy to help out.
Take a break
You may feel like you have to study 24/7 to achieve your goals but this can lead to lower productivity, lower quality coursework and ultimately you will burn out. If you take a break every so often to enjoy family life, you’ll come back to your studies refreshed, re-energised and ready to get stuck back in.
It doesn’t have to be a big break either. It can be as simple as going for a walk, curling up with your favourite book or running around the garden with your children for half an hour. Whatever helps to relax you and make you happy should be what you do.
It may seem more interesting to potter in the garden, do the laundry or vacuum the house than to study but you’re just delaying the inevitable. The task of studying will be there waiting no matter how much you delay. It’s far better to get it done first and get it out of the way so you can then enjoy time with your family.
If you’re having problems with your studies, remember GSM London is here to help. Contact us for advice on managing your school life balance.