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Trying to manage all the demands of working, raising a family and going to school is no easy task, but it is possible. Working students just like you can truly still have it all! Student time management skills are your secret weapon to daily survival and success in reaching your goal!
Working students have lots of responsibilities taking up the majority of their time; but does that mean you’ve given up on your dream of someday having the rewarding career you’ve always imagined? Hopefully not. Read on to find out how to get ahead of the game as a working student.
Follow these ten tips to make working, raising a family and going to school manageable:
- Set attainable goals and prioritize.
- Create a support system.
- Find a job that works around your school schedule.
- Find reliable daycare.
- Make a schedule, but be flexible.
- Stay organized.
- Manage your time well.
- Delegate household responsibilities.
- Control stress levels.
- Maintain focus and know that it can be done.
1 – Set attainable goals and prioritize.
Choose realistic goals and stay focused by prioritizing what is most important to you and your desired objective.
- Every decision you make should depend on your actual abilities. For example, if you can’t fit a full class load into your schedule, then start with just 1 or 2 classes a semester and go from there.
- Once you know how much you can handle with school, you can attempt adding more to your schedule.
A good tip is to break down one big goal into several smaller goals that are easier to manage.
- First, write out goals.
- Then take note of the progress you’ve made as each goal is checked off your list; this will build up your confidence.
This first student time management tip – “Set attainable goals and prioritize.” – is the most important. Once you master this skill, the remaining 9 tips should be easy to put into practice.
2 – Create a support system.
- Get buy-in from your existing support group: Discuss your decision to go back to school with your employer, family and friends. Make sure they understand why you are doing it, and that you – a working student – are going to need their help along the way.
- Reach out to your new support group at school: Use your school counselors, join a study group, get to know other working students who have similar daily obligations. Just make sure not to alienate existing friends or family members. You will not believe how much this support will help you in your pursuit of a new career.
3 – Find a job that works around your school schedule.
Find flexible work because school is your priority now.
If there are others that can do what you do at your job, it will be easier to take time off and trade shifts to work around your school schedule.
Look for jobs at the school you go to, at your child’s daycare, or maybe something you can do from home. If your employer doesn’t understand, look for a new one.
4 – Find reliable daycare.
Decide which form of childcare will work best for you and schedule to meet with them. Once you’ve chosen your arrangement, locate a few back-up sources in case anything changes. There are many choices for reliable childcare, such as:
- Public and private daycare centers
- In-home daycare
- Parent trade-offs
- Babysitting pools
- Family members
5 – Make a schedule, but be flexible.
If you haven’t already done so, make a schedule.
- This schedule should be at least somewhat flexible and contain every activity required of your day.
- Once you have it all down in writing and can see it from a better perspective, figure out what can be shuffled and what needs to stay put.
- The time between work and family obligations can be used for study and homework.
Now that your schedule is complete, don’t forget to communicate your daily obligations to your family, employer and friends. Once everyone knows what to expect of your time, things should run smoothly.
6 – Stay organized.
- To succeed as a working student, you must stay organized in all aspects of your life. You will notice that when your spaces are organized, your thoughts follow suit. Knowing where everything is at any given moment will also save you valuable time that can be put towards more important tasks.
- Keep your schedule up to date. Any changes that must be made should be updated immediately. This is especially important at the start of a new semester, when class times tend to change and new arrangements need to be made.
7 – Manage your time well.
Successful student time management is all about preparing and making every minute count. For example, use the valuable time before you go to sleep to:
- Lay out clothes
- Pack up lunches and backpacks
- Set out keys, coats and shoes (weather appropriate)
- Get the coffee ready to brew
- Take a shower
- Decide on a breakfast menu
This will save you precious time in the morning and insure that you won’t be late to anything.
8 – Delegate household responsibilities.
Delegate, delegate, delegate! If you have children over the age of 4, they can probably lend you a hand around the house and lighten some of your load. Make sure that everyone contributes to the family and has a job that they can actually do. In doing this, you will teach your children valuable skills for living independently in the future. And don’t forget to use your support system.
9 – Control stress levels.
- Keep stress in check. For a working student or parent going back to school, relieving stress is just as important as keeping it at bay.
- Take breaks often. Take a night off from studying and plan something fun to do with the family, friends or on your own.
- Make sure to take time each day to do at least one thing that you enjoy, such as reading for pleasure.
- Stretch, exercise or meditate. This can be as simple as going for a short walk.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this and reward yourself for your hard work and accomplishments.
- Enjoy the little things that always made you happy and incorporate them into every day activities.
10 – Maintain focus and know that it can be done.
Focus on the subject at hand. Manage one task at a time and don’t think about anything else.
- If you’re with the family, be with the family and hold off on balancing the checkbook.
- If you’re at school, focus on your assignments and put work responsibilities on hold.
- When fixing meals, don’t stress about who is getting the kids to their activities.
Remind yourself why you’re doing all of this: little sacrifices can lead to big rewards. Try not to be too hard on yourself if not everything goes the way you planned; that’s life.
Know that lots of people make the decision to go back to school every day and do it successfully. If they can do it, so can you! It just takes a little compromise and lot of drive.