How to Juggle Work & School

Overwhelming is it? Oh yea it is. Here you are, you made the decison to go back to college. It’s probably been years since you have seen the inside of a classroom. Classes are in the evenings or online if you have chosen that route. I took the majority of my classes online as it worked better with my schedule. I did however take my most difficult classes (Math) on campus. Ok, now what? You have a full or part time job, how are you going to balance all of this. Whew – BREATHE. During your first couple of quarters you may want to take just one or two classes. I know, we are super people and we can handle a full class load – NO YOU CAN’T 🙂 trust me on this one. It is hard enough adjusting without going overboard at first.

The first couple of quarters you are trying to adjust to this new endeavor. Here is what worked for me. I took two classes. I took the easiest ones for me. My first classes were on campus so that I could get into the routine of this whole school thing. I worked from 8-4:30 Mondays – Fridays as a Personal Assistant for a highly demanding boss. I was really concerned how that was going to work. At first I stressed about getting off of work on time on the days that I had class and tried to figure out my study time. What I did was learn to schedule everything. My classes were at 6:15 – 10pm. So even if I got off work at 5, I still had time to eat a quick meal and head to class. The school was only 20 minutes away. (I got smart and started stopping at a take out restaurant across the street from the school and ate my dinner in the student lounge or I waited for our first break). I scheduled my study time and homework time into my lunch break as well as after dinner on the nights I did not have class. I set aside 60 – 90 minutes on those nights. This means I learned the true value of having a DVR :-). Besides most of the time my family was busy doing their own thing at that time so it made it a little easier. Since I am an early bird, I would also get up early by an extra half hour to forty five minutes and read a chapter or so.

The biggest decision I made was sitting my boss down and explaining to her what I was doing and that it was really important that I be able to leave work by 4:30 on class days and that she could abuse 🙂 me on the days I did not. She did not have a problem with that since I made myself available to her when it was important. I will say this, I NEVER missed a class because of work. NOT ONE.  I learned all about time management and applied it quickly. I also came to realize that since I do not work weekends or I had two other days off during the  week that it left me with a full 48 hours to do school work. Once that lightbulb went off, it changed a lot. Imagine what work you can get done studying a straight 6-8 hours (Of course with coffee and bathroom breaks in there :-)). Now I was getting a grasp on this whole studying and work thing.

Yes, sometimes work can interfere, but you have to learn to adjust and not overwhelm yourself. When you realize there IS plenty of time to study and complete your homework and projects, you begin to become more comfortable. Get a calendar and schedule everything. Doing so actually gets your whole life in order and it runs smoother than you ever thought.

Now, let’s talk about feeling tired all the time. You will definitely go through that too. Exhaustion is not a good thing. You have to make sure you get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Once I got my life scheduled I made sure I got to bed by midnight – this started to come together around my third quarter. I found that if I managed our time well I was able to get what I needed for rest. Don’t get me wrong, I have my times when I get off track, especially during midterms and finals.  Or when family issues take over. I just then bite the bullet and get through it because I know “This too shall pass.” I mean after all, the quarter is only 12 weeks long. 12 weeks, I got this. 12 weeks is really not that long . You get a small break before the next quarter anyway, use it to your benefit.

Let’s discuss other ways to keep your sanity. First – MEDITATE. Ok, not the guru type of meditation. I mean just some quiet reflection time. Take 15 minutes and put on some music of your choice and sit back and close your eyes and “ALLOW” 🙂 yourself to drift off somewhere. This was hard, well actually, very hard for me to do at first because my mind was racing with everything I had to get done. In all honesty, it took me a good couple of months to get into this. But I learned to accept that 15 minutes would re-energize me and give me what I needed to make it through the rest of the day. I would take deep breaths and slowly exhale and just learn to relax my muscles and think of something beautiful it was usually the ocean or Florence Italy where I visited and felt most peaceful. Now granted I cannot do this every single day, but when I find that my stress is getting out of control and my mind is all over the place, I force myself to do this. It gets my thoughts back on track and gives me the energy to continue. Think about it, How well are you going to do studying when your mind cannot concentrate. You are not going to do your best work. You will find what works for you. You just have to be willing to do it!

Eat right and take your vitamins 🙂  Yes I am serious. Vitamins keep you healthy, drinking plenty of water keeps you refreshed and eating right gives you the energy you need. I drink a lot of Protein during the day. Light carbs in the morning and lunch. Light dinner. I drink tons of water during the day too. If you’re starving or not getting enough nutrients, your brain suffers and you are not going to do well in class, on your homework and so forth. Caffine will become your best friend, just don’t over indulge or you won’t get enough rest.

It’s all overwhelming, but I promise you will get control of it if this is what you really want. Stay DRIVEN & FOCUSED. You will make it! 🙂

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