How to Balance School and Work

If you work and study, you might have an edge.  It’s said that busy people can be relied on to get an extra task done.  But you’ll need to find a balance between work and school, one ideally where school should be prioritized.  An education, after all, can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your pay grade.  And then there are all the other benefits, too, like developing the ability to learn.

Nonetheless, here are tips on how to balance school and work—and excel at both:

Discover your passion—in academia.  Find what makes you tick and pursue it as an academic major.  It’ll give you staying power.  But don’t stop there; get a career related to your passion, too.  Your best bet is to discover your Myers-Briggs personality type and Google what careers best suit your personality type.  But take it further still.  Search on each of those careers to determine the best salaries and the required education.  Choose a winner and chase your passion—in both your academics and your career, perhaps at the same time.

Schedule your days.  Spend two weeks documenting your day’s activities.  That way, you can replace low value activities with high valued ones—or combine them.  For instance, if you spend a half hour a day surfing the web, perhaps fit in some homework time.  If you commute, consider doing homework on the bus.  If you clean, try listening to work- or school-related audiobooks.

Mix school with work.  In other words, try to choose work-related topics for your academic papers and projects.  Or try to fit in time for homework at work, perhaps during lunch-hour or breaks.

Delegate tasks.  If you’ve got family, perhaps they can tackle some of your chores.  But they may have busy lives, too.  So, why not offer a friend’s teen a bit of cash to clean your home?  And if you’re an introvert with a smaller circle of friends, then perhaps schedule a bit of cleaning time on your own each day.  It’s amazing how refreshing cleaning can be when faced with the option of doing dishes versus studying multivariate calculus.

Consider eating a no-cook raw diet.  A diet of raw veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, mixed beans, and canned salmon or sushi can turn around one’s state of health.  And it all takes zero time to cook.  And whether you choose this diet or not, consider reading textbooks while eating to maximize time.

Log essay and exam dates, along with week-by-week goals.  Many people who log their goals week-by-week will tend to achieve a better (academic) performance.  A calendar scheduled with week-by-week goals is highly beneficial, especially for students wanting to gain entry into grad school, from my experience.

Do multiple tasks at the same time.  You might choose to listen to an audiobook while washing dishes or make a phone call while dusting.  And carry your schoolwork wherever you go.  Pull it out at every opportunity.  If you are in line at Starbucks, consider reading your textbook as you wait.  If you’re waiting for a bus, why not study to pass the time?  And if you’re simply walking to the store, read your e-textbook as you walk.

Exercise, but study at the same time.  Stationary bicycles often have a ledge that you can place your textbook onto.  As well, in between weight sets, you can take minute-long rests to quickly study your homework.

Stay busy.  As a bald friend of mine used to say, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”  When busy people map out their day, they often are more productive.  And a well-scheduled day means the busy soul can take on more tasks than their less busy counterparts.

Prioritize your grades.  If your academic grades ever suffer, consider decreasing your job hours.  If your grades aren’t all A’s or at least B+’s, then perhaps reduce your number of classes, too.

Stick with an online education.  AU students have an advantage: greater school-work-life balance.  Studying remotely means you’ll likely erase an hour or more of commuting each day, which can add up to 5 or more hours a week, or 20 or more hours a month.  That’s a lot of time saved by being an AU student!

Working while going to school can be rewarding, especially if you schedule your months, weeks, and days.  One friend often says, “If you need a task done urgently, give it to a busy person.”