While the prospect of working and studying at the same time isn’t enticing and means not getting the best of both worlds, it is a turbo-charged way of taking on both worlds altogether. In reality, working and studying at the same time is practically not a new thing. Many budding entrepreneurs have started small when they were still in school. I remember my first small business when I was a kid, selling chocolates and candies to classmates and teachers (I know it’s not the best comparison, but I’ll get to my point in a bit). While most of us cringe at the memory of our first young entrepreneurial experience, it takes more than candy, chocolate or a lemonade stand in today’s competitive world.
Going back to my earlier dilemma To Work or Not to Work (Now), I was in a fraught situation where I just finished university and contemplating whether to take my Chemist License Board Exams. But I was also very certain that I really wanted to just dive in to the corporate pool. I just received a job offer from a top BPO company in the central business district and I knew instantly that it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
So I threaded on. In March 2005, I received my Chemistry degree from UST. In April, I started my first full-time job in Telesales. Totally different industries but this also made me fully realize that I didn’t really want to be a Chemist. I wanted something else and it didn’t involve swirling flasks and staring at tubes. I would be happy not to take the Board Exams but because of school and family pressure, I decided to take it anyway. So I studied during the day and I worked at night. Here’s how I did it.
1. Set a schedule with a clear time boundary between work and study.
If you study during the day and work at night like I did, set up a definite time limit between work and study. I used to work from 8PM to 6AM then would start my studies at 3PM. As much as possible, I tried to leave work at 6AM and then when 3PM starts, I’d be hitting my books. Start building on a good habit every time, making sure that you adhere to your strict schedule every day.
2. Complete tasks only within your allotted frame.
Once you have set your schedule, complete your tasks only within your allotted time frame. Sometimes, we are tempted to overwork and as a result have exceeded the time frame we have set aside for this particular task. When that happens, just stop the task and continue tomorrow. This gives your mind the thinking that you can consistently follow through each time frame and to avoid burnout as a result of stress.
3. Register for a review class or study in groups.
There are strength in numbers and the same is true if you register for a review class or study in groups. Group studying allows better flow of ideas, knowledge and keeps everybody in focus.
4. Break down study time into smaller tasks.
If you are working on a school project or preparing for an exam, managing study time can be quite overwhelming. This is the best time to break down study time into smaller tasks. If you are preparing for a project or research paper, set smaller goals to be accomplished in a given time frame. If you are getting ready for a big exam, set out to finish cover a certain number of chapters in a given time frame.
5. Reward yourself for completing all small tasks for one straight week.
The objective of being able to manage work and study is to achieve a level of work-life-balance. If you have completed a number of small tasks for one straight week, treat yourself to something that you will enjoy.
6. Get enough rest and nutrition.
The demands to manage work and study is not an easy task and you need your body to be with you in every step of the way. Having adequate sleep, proper food and some multivitamins ensures your mind and body to be in good shape.
7. Take some time to exercise.
On weekends, take an hour to do some exercise. Hormones released after a workout include endorphines which make you feel exhilarated, serotonin which aids in sleep and appetite, and other growth-factor hormones. These helps the mind and body cope with situations like stress and exhaustion.
While there is no fast lane to managing work and study, the best way is to start building habits that will ultimately increase our chances of success. As the old saying goes, “Man is a creature of habit.” If you have experiences and tips you would like to share with us, please feel free to give your comments below.
Is there anything else I may have missed? Do you wish to share your own experiences in managing your time and self? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
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