How to Combine Work and Study Effectively

Whether you’re on the hunt for your first job or you’re already working, juggling a full-time (or even a part-time) job and trying to maintain your grades can be mentally exhausting and physically demanding, to say the least.

It seems like an impossible task when you’re in the heat of battle — and someone should really have a blueprint or a roadmap on how to do this, because it feels like the responsibilities are too much to bear!

But fret not: we’re here to help.

We’ve put together a list of the top 10 ways you can successfully and effectively combine work and study. Let’s dig right in!

Step 1: Choose the right job

First things first, you need to choose a job that can provide you the opportunity to combine work and study.

Think about what your course of study is going to require of you, and try to find a job that can accommodate that. Remember that while there may not be many options for a student as you’re looking for a job, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider those that are available.

Look specifically at things like:

  • The job’s proximity to campus
  • Flexible working hours
  • Clearly established and comfortable job requirements
  • Pay

Evaluating proximity, for example, helps if you’re going to be walking or driving to your job and how quickly you can get there after classes. Having flexible working hours and a comfortable pay, meanwhile, will set your mind at ease while you’re trying to juggle study sessions and the occasional late-night pizza.

Step 2: Stay organized

There’s absolutely no way to accomplish combining work and study without staying organized, and it needs to be a priority.

You’ll want to focus your time on organizing the assignments due in your classes, any hard deadlines you’ll be forced to comply with at either work or school, and your assigned work schedule.

Perhaps you’re the type of person who’s going to invest in a day planner and map out every hour of the day to stay on top of things. Or maybe you’re sticking to electronic organization with those fancy student apps. Whichever method you choose, be consistent and don’t stop the organization!

Step 3: Identify potential problems

While there certainly are many benefits to working part time as a student (or even full time, if you can swing it!), it won’t be without hiccups — like having back-to-back shifts at the same you’re preparing for a major exam.

Taking the time to identify these problems will allow you some time to evaluate potential solutions prior to being thrown into the situation. Not only will this save you from unnecessary stress but it will also help you maintain your energy levels while combining work and study.

Step 4 : Talk to your manager

The next step is to open up a dialogue with your employer and discuss how you can both benefit your employment while you consistently pass your classes in school. This, ultimately, helps avoid the risk of any miscommunication at work.

The key here is to offer solutions. For example, you can recommend a set work schedule during your exams or more flexibility to scale back hours during those stressful periods at school.

At the end of the day, you’re being paid to provide a service to your employer, so you need to spend the time working with your boss to ensure you’re able to provide that service as best as possible.

Step 5: Speak with your course tutor

It’s okay — it’s great even — to reach out for help. There’s no harm in going to your tutor and explaining all the responsibilities you’re currently facing.

Although you’re not looking for special treatment here, your college professor may be able — and even willing— to extend an assignment deadline for you if they’re aware of your situation. So, give it a shot and see what accommodations can be made to help you through the busy season of work and school.

Let’s be clear here: we don’t recommend asking for a deadline extension because you’re too tired or you don’t know how to say ‘no’ when you’re called into work. But, if anything, having a discussion with your tutor will help them understand more about your situation and they can perhaps even offer their advice and support.

Step 6: Manage your time

It’s time for your study session, but instead you sit in your chair throwing a ball at the wall or surfing social media — not exactly what you had in mind when you blocked out three hours to study today.

It’s beneficial to work with your boss to set a work schedule that can benefit you both, and set a study schedule that can accommodate your school needs, but there’s a way to do this effectively. Don’t schedule yourself for a shift where you know you’ll be too tired or block out three hours to study when you know you won’t be focused enough to study.

Pay close attention to when you feel the most productive studying. Is it before class in the early morning with a fresh cup of coffee or burning that midnight oil when everyone else has gone to sleep? Similarly, do you find you’re able to prioritize work better in the evenings when you have finished all your schoolwork, or would you rather get it done first thing?

Find the sweet spot for each and manage your time accordingly as much as possible. If you don’t, you’re only setting yourself up for failure, so take control and manage your time effectively.

Step 7: Never miss a class

You may be catching up on sleep because you worked late last night or sleeping in because you pulled an all-nighter studying, but whatever you do, never — ever — miss a class!

While boring notes from your classmates is a good alternative (should you have an emergency that needs your attention), it’s not the same as learning from your tutor.

If you want to succeed in your studies, attending classes is what will help you get there. While you may think that missing a few classes here and there won’t matter, a few can quickly become many, and before you know it, your grades are suffering and you’re falling behind on your coursework.

Bottom line: don’t make a habit of not going to your classes, or your grades will surely reflect that.

Step 8: Schedule time to relax

While it might seem silly to have to schedule time to relax in the midst of dealing with exam stress and working a full-time or part-time job, it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Maintaining the ultimate work-life balance will allow you the opportunity to unwind.

While work and study may feel like the most important things in life right now, remember that this too shall pass, and when it does, you don’t want to lose friends or relationships in the process. In fact, a recent poll of 2,000 Americans shows that 85% say getting time for yourself on a regular basis is key to a healthy relationship.

Focus on activities that give you rest and energy, like going for a run to focus your mind, binge-watching your favorite TV show, or meditating as you take the time to unwind. Whatever it may be that gives you that restoration, take it; schedule the time to relax, and don’t skimp on it!

Step 9: Have confidence in yourself

There will absolutely be times along this journey that you’ll doubt whether you can do this. You’ll wonder if you took on too much or made the right study and career choices — that’s just inevitable.

While we can’t keep those instances from happening, try to remember to trust your abilities and have confidence in yourself. Indeed, a little confidence can go a long way in helping you achieve combining work and study.

Trust not only that you made the right decision in the course and job you selected, but also that you have the ability to prioritize and accomplish them both. Be encouraged that you’re walking through this time with courage, and be confident that you’ll end up on the other side stronger because of it!

Step 10: Celebrate your wins

Whether you’re on the career path to get a promotion or you just created a great student council campaign, make sure that you celebrate your wins — however big or small!

Take time out to go have drinks with some friends or to an uninterrupted dinner with your partner or just to recognize your accomplishments. Be encouraged that your system is working and that through your persistence, you’re effectively accomplishing study with a full or part-time job.

Key takeaways

No matter your arrangement with your employer, it’s possible to effectively achieve combining work and study — as long as you remember these key points:

  • Stay on top of your organizational skills.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and your teacher and boss.
  • Take time for relaxation and recharging.
  • Celebrate the successes, no matter how big or small!

Utilize the blueprint we have given you to successfully combine work and study and, in the end, you’ll have a degree you’re proud of and a career that can take you where you’ve always wanted to go. Keep the future in mind and don’t give up.

Got a question about combining work and study, or want to share your own tried-and-tested tips with us? Let us know in the comments section below.


Originally published on December 26, 2016.

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