Working and studying at the same time can be very challenging. If finding a balance between both is something that scares you, know that you are not alone on this journey. There are many students who need to work to support their studies and many others who are already working and choose to go back to study to improve their knowledge and skills. In both situations, effort, dedication and a good dose of planning and self-discipline are required.
Working and studying at the same time in a balanced and healthy way
Balancing work and study is difficult. Even though it is very common, if it is not done correctly it can cause anxiety from the pressure of ‘doing it all’. Whatever your reason for working and studying at the same time, a well-structured plan can help you maintain a balance between the two poles – and, of course, your personal life.
Then, we leave you 7 fundamental tips to achieve a healthy balance between work and studies, and thus fulfill all your goals.
1. Set a calendar and stick to it
Planning is a great way to get an overview of your priorities and the amount of time you need to do everything you have to do. The more detailed your calendar is, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Allocate specific hours for everything and make sure you remember all the chores – including class, work, study hours and other obligations. That way, you will know exactly when you have free time for your leisure time (yes, it is important that they appear on your agenda too).
2. Plan to think about unpredictability
It is important that you leave some space for “the unexpected”. Yes, because unexpected things arise and you must always be prepared for them. You can do this by allocating extra (free) time between tasks.
When planning unexpected blocks, situations of illness or other unpredictability, you stay alert and avoid spikes of anxiety because things don’t go exactly as you planned.
3. Inform people of your situation
If you work and study at the same time, it is inevitable that there will be times when your work and study schedules collide. To avoid this, you should inform your boss, manager and co-workers that you are studying and that therefore you may not be so available at certain times. This also means that class schedules, group study sessions and exams should be scheduled and added to your calendar as far in advance as possible. If you inform your boss in time, you will prevent your work from taking priority over your studies and will be able to maintain the desired balance.
University officials are aware that many students have jobs and financial commitments. Anyway, talk to your teachers and explain the situation to them so that they can be more flexible with you whenever necessary.
If you live with your parents or colleagues, talk to them and ask them for some understanding so that they can do some of your household chores in more difficult times. If, on the other hand, you are living in a student residence in Lisbon, tell your colleagues that you may need some extra moments of silence to study or rest.
4. Don’t leave things for the last day
If you stay up studying all night to finish a work assignment or study for the exam you have the next morning, you can’t expect things to go (always) well.
Divide your projects or tasks into small steps or objectives and mark them as you finish them. In this way, they guarantee better results and reduce anxiety levels.
5. Learn to manage stress
Working and studying at the same time can be stressful, but there are many ways to manage anxiety – it’s just a matter of finding out what works best for you. Activities such as breathing exercises, practicing yoga or meditation can greatly reduce stress levels and, consequently, provide benefits to your physical and mental health.
6. Avoid distractions
Nowadays, it is very easy to get distracted by the amount of information that runs wildly on our smartphone and around us, and these things can distract you from the work you are doing and so you will need a lot more time to complete the tasks that you have on your calendar.
At the end of the day, when you see that you were unable to comply with what you set out to do, thoughts will arise that will bring you frustration, discouragement and more stress. Therefore, the focus is very important for completing one task and moving to another. Avoid having your phone near you, tell your colleagues that you need to be focused and take advantage of all the perks you have.
7. Set boundaries
If people ask you to do something that you know will prevent you from completing a task, say ‘no!’. It is one of the simplest ways to keep your balance while working and studying at the same time. If you can’t do everything, you must set limits and be realistic. The right people will always understand.
Always remember what made you want to work and study at the same time and stay focused on that goal. You can do this by creating a vision board – where you can visually perceive your dreams and ambitions – informing your family and friends about your plans and asking them to remind you when you need it most.
There will be difficult times when you will probably want to give up. It is in those moments that you need to go back to this article and read everything again to remind yourself that yes, it is possible. And yes, you are capable! The reward will come later. Until then, it will reward you for the little things. This will give you courage and motivation to continue.