Jori Hamilton 3m 847
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
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More and more individuals are trying to go back to school in order to build a better future. It’s an admirable desire, and one that should be heartily supported. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it can be really hard to do.
The average tuition for private colleges in 2018 stood at a staggering $42,681 per year. This astronomical figure has led to the natural side effect that roughly 7 in 10 students are also working while they’re in school.
If you’re among the ranks of those who are struggling to balance a packed school schedule with part-time or even full-time work, here are a few suggestions to help you stay healthy while you finish your education.
If you’re trying to balance work, school, and personal life, it’s easy for things to quickly bleed into a continual, chaotic stream of activity. This can become discouraging and even downright depressing if you don’t feel like you’re actually working toward something.
With that in mind, try to set both short- and long-term goals to help you remain mentally focused as you go along. Make sure each objective is a SMART goal, that is:
For instance, goals like aiming to “do really well at school” or “really impress your boss” don’t really give you much. However, a goal like “finishing with a GPA of 3.75 or higher,” or, “maintaining a flexible work schedule that fits with your school each semester” can help you to stay focused and effective over time.
With so much going on all at once, a schedule can be a lifeline that provides structure and consistency to an otherwise overpacked and insane life. You shouldn’t just schedule big things, either. Try to maintain a schedule that has everything from work, school, and recreation all in one convenient location.
If your work and school are consistent enough, you can even manage your time more carefully by assigning specific time blocks to each important task that you might have. In addition, remember to work on things like keeping up a morning routine.
Having a solid schedule will also enable you to utilize your vacation days wisely. Whether you use them for a long weekend away to recharge or to help you survive finals week, having a solid schedule in place can help you use your vacation days at the best possible times.
Having a dedicated space to work has always been important. However, if you’re trying to work full-time and go to school — especially during the coronavirus pandemic — it’s become more important than ever. If you’re an adult learner, in particular, there’s a good chance that you’re working from home with a spouse or kids occupying your space, as well.
If this is the case, make sure to dedicate a space that is just for you to work in. This creates a natural boundary you can retreat to in order to focus on homework, work-related projects, and other assignments. If your living space is big enough, it’s ideal to have two separate areas for both work and school. However, a single space can still serve very well for both.
Even if it’s just an otherwise unused corner of your bedroom, do your best to have an area where your mind can shut out the distractions and focus — and then leave it all behind when you’re finished.
It’s also wise to take your basic self-care needs into consideration. This isn’t just referring to down-time to read a book or get a massage, although scheduling in “me time” to recharge isn’t a bad idea. However, your self-care efforts should start with basics like:
Getting enough sleep: Always aim for 7 to 9 hours per night if you can.
Exercising regularly: Exercise can keep you healthy and help you manage things like stress.
Eating well: This doesn’t mean buying into health myths like going gluten-free for no reason or ditching your microwave. It refers to building a well-rounded diet that is aimed at your long-term health.
Along with tending to basic physical needs, it’s also important to remember your mental health. Take time to meditate and pray regularly, adopt breathing exercises, and generally look for ways to boost your mental positivity and confidence.
It’s difficult to balance life at any time. Throwing school, work, and personal life into the equation all at once can feel downright overwhelming. When you add in the fact that you need your health to hold up in order to keep up, it can feel impossible.
However, if you’re willing to put in a little effort, you can still find success. Keep a tight schedule. Set goals. Dedicate spaces for work and school. And above all, remember those basic self-care needs. By taking control of your situation, you can not only survive your current school/work chaos — you can thrive in it.