How to Optimize the Semester as a Night Student

Studying late into the night may not be ideal for some.  However, for some night owls, studying at night actually may be more peaceful in the house with less distractions.

I’ve been there and done that—where I’ve worked full time during the day and in the evening taken up a course.  Some might be working towards a degree and carrying a full or part-time job.  In either case I applaud you.  The stuff isn’t easy, and I want to break down how to optimize your time and schedule.  I don’t have it down pat either.  There’s a lot of challenges that will arise and, inevitably, the perfect schedule that you might have in mind will fall apart from burnout.  After all, every one has the same number of hours in a day and balancing a full time job with evening classes might not be a good plan for you.

But if you were contemplating or already are juggling this type of work-school balance, what are some ways to optimize time?

Adjust your schedule

Even though it is not always possible.  Sometimes, this might mean being honest to your boss about your schedules.  For example, when I worked during the day and studied in the evenings, I often found myself too tired or brain dead to study.  I found that I studied much better in the mornings and so waking up early and making the most of the morning few hours to complete assignments and study for exams in a methodical and time-efficient way was very important.  For some of my friends, this meant picking up later shifts or part-time shifts.  Another hack I learned as a student was to get a job that was close to school or, if you’re doing online school, think about doing work that’s also online.  This might mean being an online TaskRabbit for someone or tutoring online.

Listen to your body

Don’t neglect your health while juggling work with school.  If you are overworked, you might get headaches from the sleep deprivation or have focus problems during your classes.  If you’re unable to handle a job with schoolwork, sometimes it means cutting down the hours on one.  Sometimes it might also mean getting help, such as getting a family member to finish the chores so you could focus on the tasks at hand.

Physical and mental burnout is real and paying attention to the body’s aches and pains will tell if you’re overly stressed.

Group your time together

If you only have 2-3 hours in a day to study or work, it might be worthwhile to group these to a single day.  For example, when I was in school, I would work on Saturday and Sunday for 8 hours a day.  During the weekdays I would study and power through my schoolwork.  Grouping time together helps you stay focused and productive.  In fact, the cost of switching from one task to another is high.  Think about the transportation costs, time costs, and even the mental energy of changing from one task to another.

Courtesy of my friend, TB

Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night

When you’re being a student, your brain is constantly working to remember and learn new information.  While you might think it is possible to live with less, lack of productivity and focus might cost you more in the long run.