How to Balance Your Work, Study and Personal Life
When you’re holding down a job as well as working towards exams, never mind factoring in a personal life too, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of balance. What’s more, especially if you have a family, it can feel as though you are taking care of everyone and everything else apart from yourself.
If that sounds like you, you’re not the only one. A study earlier this year found that British workers put in the longest hours among EU nations, although other countries – such as Denmark and Germany – are more productive.
At the same time, another study, from Virgin Active, found that we’re not getting enough sleep or ‘me time’. Meanwhile, women, in particular, have said they really need an extra four hours in the day just to get everything done.
When balancing learning with paid employment, the challenges can feel particularly acute, and the demands on your time even more intense. So what can you do to avoid burnout while studying for an extra qualification to give you a step up the career ladder and allow you to bring fresh skills to your workplace?
You’ll clearly need to be on top of your game when it comes to time management and commitment, so here are our best tips for keeping things on an even keel:
Talk to your boss about what you’re doing, and discuss any challenges. Be open about your commitments, and make the most of any support offered such as study leave. Your employer will hopefully be delighted you’re making such a strong investment in your own development. Equally, you will want those closest to you on board, so have a conversation with your family about what you have committed to.
You can say no
Especially if you’re approaching any deadlines, you may have to turn down some social invitations or activities or reschedule them. Remember to tell yourself that it’s fine to do that and that sometimes you may have no choice. You friends and family should respect that you need to complete assignments or revise for exams and that this is your top priority currently.
Keep the end goals firmly in mind
Constantly remind yourself about why you’re studying for the qualification, and what you hope to gain from having it. When the going gets tough, having a strong sense of purpose will help keep you on track.Here are some tips on how to keep things on an even keel when you have multiple commitments. Click To Tweet
Don’t ignore problems
Whether something has cropped up on the personal front or you’re struggling to meet a deadline, let the relevant person know sooner rather than later. Employers, family members or others obviously can’t help you if they don’t know what the problem is.
Use small ‘time pockets’
Even 20 minutes is long enough to get something worthwhile done. Whether you’re travelling, taking advantage of a lunch break or waiting for someone in the car, use the time wisely. You could even listen to audio material while ironing or having a bath.
Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
Ah, that old chestnut – we’ve heard it all before. But it is precisely what you need to do if you want to fit everything into a busy life. So if you’re trying to juggle cooking dinner, finishing an assignment and childcare, try writing a list and categorise tasks as negotiable or non-negotiable. Think about what can wait – and what simply can’t.
Have a study schedule that’s realistic, with some room for flexibility in case circumstances change or the unexpected happens. (It will.) No one can promise that studying while working will be easy at all times, but with a bit of thought, you can work hard without losing sight of the importance of living a healthily balanced life.