How to Stay the Course: Balancing Schoolwork While Working Full-Time

Many of my colleagues have asked me how I managed to complete my degree while working full-time, so I am taking to this platform to answer that question and share with you some tips that worked for me. Sometimes, we all need a little nudge in the right direction. I’d like to thank the bamboo knife set for my push. That was the gift I received for my 5th year anniversary with Coca-Cola. The way it gave me a nudge per se, was that it prompted me to put my life into perspective as to what I wanted to do over the next five years from that point. I came up with the plan that I was going to go back to school and complete a degree, so I could learn new skills and develop myself to grow with the company. I was going to have to do it while still working full-time and finding a way to manage my course load. Like many of you, I know sacrificing your work hours is not optimal as bills do not pay themselves. With that said, I hope some of my tips will help you find a way to strike a balance between work and schoolwork.

Stay Focused on Your Goal

Are you a procrastinator? I think we all are right? However, find a way to not stay in la la land for too long. For me; when I found myself lingering on the couch for too long telling myself “I’ll pick up that text after this show” or “just one more episode,” I thought about that knife set which quickly reminded me of my goal I had set out. Being organized can help you stay focused as well. Plan out your day, it will not always go exactly as planned but you are more likely to get things done when you write it down.  Using an agenda worked and still works for me to set mini goals within the broader one. For instance; if you have a term paper to work on, try breaking up the task into your intro/thesis a few days, work on the body of the assignment the next few and then the conclusion. For my tech savvy friends, of course the calendars and notepads on your cellphones will be just as effective if you don’t fancy carrying an extra book around!

Utilize Your Time

Monopolize your free time! I found that using my breaks and lunches to get assigned readings done helped so much. If you commute by transit use that time to pull out your assignments and read them! It may not seem like a lot, but it can add up quite quickly from an hour to three hours of reading each day (of course that will vary on an individual basis). With the readings out the way, you will find that when you get in from work after taking care of any other personal errands you can sit down and jump right into the assignments.

*It helps if you read over the assignment/essay requirements before beginning the readings so that you know what information to look for and you can highlight and make notes along the way.

Adjust Your Study Environment

Watching more TV than getting schoolwork done? Turn Game of Thrones off! Get some work done and reward yourself by watching it later! If you are easily distracted in your current study environment, you will need to make the necessary changes.  If someone at home finds the best time to have a discussion with you is when you are sitting down in the middle of an assignment, opt to go to a coffee shop instead. If you are still too distracted eavesdropping in the conversations being held around you, yes you I got you covered, go to a local library. Yes, gone are the days when people use their indoor voices in libraries, but they have quite rooms you can utilize for absolute silence and undivided attention for your studies.

So just to recap; I am by no means suggesting that you swear off all your free time. I am merely saying to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Go to your best friend’s birthday party or spend an evening playing Fortnite, that’s ok! Just remember when you’re going to dedicate your time to something other than your schoolwork, make sure you’re putting in the extra work beforehand to make it count. Keep your eye on the prize; the certificate, diploma or degree and the vast doors it will open for you upon completion.  You will be so proud of your accomplishment! When your program comes to an end, and it will go by faster than you think, you can sit back and say, “I did it!” What a bittersweet feeling it is!

So, what will you use as your symbolic nudge to shift your gears back in focus? Feel free to share any tips you may have below in the comments.


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