Wednesday, October 19, 2016

School and Work: Struggling to Find the Right Balance?

As an undergraduate student, working full-time and/or part-time can be very overwhelming –I’ve been there myself. Between studying for midterms and quizzes, completing assignments and finding time to catch up on my readings, I had to make sure my work hours were manageable. I also needed to check that I had enough time off for a social life too. The struggle is definitely real my friends, but you can definitely overcome this by using the following tips, based on my learning as an undergrad student!

Keep a Physical on-the-go Planner 

I know, I know – your latest iPhone has an amazing calendar and to-do list system goin’ on, and you always have it on you, but it also has all those social media apps that are guaranteed distractions. Having a fairly small planner proved to be very helpful and convenient, as I was able to take it with me everywhere!  This has also allowed me to jot down quick dates and times here and there. Also, color-coding (highlighters, stickies – do what you gotta do), was a HUGE lifesaver!

Shift Your Focus and Harmonize 

Whether it was my academics or work life, I found myself lacking in one area while being successful in another – I needed to find that balance. Yes, a high GPA is important, but good grades alone won’t cut it for grad school, neither will it be enough for a job opportunity. The fact that you were able to manage a part-time job as a student and gain experience will look much better on your resume. Try to balance out your work hours with your class schedule, which that brings me to my next point…

Plan Ahead, but Stay Flexible 

Being spontaneous and adventurous is great and all, but isn’t always the best option when you have a looong to-do list in front of you! Keep time slots for each task but make sure you’re able to move them around if the need arises. Of course this won’t usually work with class timings and work hours, but the time you allot for other tasks such as studying, finishing readings, or simply hitting the gym should be adjustable in case you have any last minute setbacks to your schedule. Flexibility is key folks!

Be Practical when Planning 

As a student, I would have ambitious phases where I’d overestimate myself and think I’d be able to get a 3-hour reading done in an hour and a half (oookay, in my dreams maybe!). If only I was more reasonable with my scheduling and goal setting, knowing what I'm capable of covering during that time period, I would’ve accomplished a lot more. Keep your work days different from your class days – that’s what worked best for me. It can get very exhausting, having back to back lectures and then running off to work immediately after. Try to keep a couple days solely for work and a couple days solely for school. You can even try opting for web-option classes, which will save you the time and hassle of commuting – but be careful! Online lectures can also become a source of procrastination! And perhaps the most important one…

Take Care of Yourself 

Focusing on school while making some money to support yourself is indeed important, but as my mom always says – “Nothing is possible if you’re not in good health.” Keep a healthy diet, because that package of Mr. Noodles won’t keep you energized for too long and all that caffeine will definitely not compensate for your lack of sleep all night! Try incorporating exercise in your week – even a 10-minute walk in the park can act as a stress-reliever. Lastly, socialize! It may not seem like it, but finding time for yourself (either alone or with friends) is just as important as attending a lecture and not missing your scheduled work shift. Work hard, play hard in moderation!

And there ya have it, some minor but very important tips to help you stay on top of everything - whether it’s an upcoming test, or a work shift you’re dreading going to, take it one day at a time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule a meeting with one of our Academic & Learning Strategists. Check out some work-study jobs being offered on campus – these guys will always accommodate your class schedule and you’ll get the best of both worlds! 

I also hope you took advantage of the various links and tip sheets I provided throughout the blog post, but we have a lot more—check ‘em out here:

Register for any upcoming workshops by logging into the Career Learning Network: - the opportunities are endless!

Until Next Time,
Arooj, Career Assistant

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