Top tips for combining work and study

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Combining work and study is something that many students have to struggle with. Whether you’re studying full-time and trying to fit in some work in the evenings, or trying to slot part-time study into your busy working life, there are things that you can do to make things easier.

Full-time study, top-up degrees, evening classes, apprenticeships – they all require us to try and get that work/study balance right.

Whatever you’re studying, and whatever line of work you’re in, here are our top tips for how to combine work and study without the stress.

  • Prioritise your time – study plans and getting real

Studying and working can feel like you’re leading two separate lives – and they can often feel jumbled unless we make a real effort to get organised. From the outset it’s important that you keep on top of your course schedule.

Draw up a study plan. It doesn’t matter which way you do this – good old pen and paper is perfect, your course may give you access to your university or college’s preferred software that can help you draw up schedules, or you can download a handy study-planning app to help.

Take a look at your study schedule and when coursework is due and check your work rota too. Be realistic here when drawing up your own study plan and see where you can fit in time for focused study. Having a plan like this to hand gives you something to consult when times get stressful, helping you keep on top of what needs doing, when.

  • Know yourself

When drawing up a study plan, play to your strengths. It could be that you feel at your most alert and focused in the mornings, in which case you could pencil in some study time in the morning before work.

  • Keep a routine

Where possible, try to stick to a study routine. Keeping to a regular routine means less stress. It doesn’t mean that you need to religiously stick to four hours of study per night – your study pattern can vary from day to day – but try to keep this pattern fixed from week to week.

  • Cut back on work during exam time

Plan ahead with your study schedule and make sure you know when exams are coming up. Have these dates in mind when creating your study plan and try to cut down on work in the lead-up to these busy study times.

  • Create a relaxing study area

Separating our daily lives from our studies can be trying, but by creating a separate study environment for ourselves that’s comfortable, quiet and free of clutter can help us block out stress and focus better on our studies.

  • Have a tidy up
  • Keep your course materials neat in folders
  • Plant pots and flowers can brighten up your work area and keep the air fresh
  • Ensure you have sufficient lighting so you aren’t straining your eyes while you study
  • Ensure you have enough work space and a comfortable chair to sit on

If this isn’t always possible at home, head for the peace and quiet of a library, your favourite bookshop or café instead.

  • Your support network

When you’re struggling, there’s always support there when you need it. Your university or college should have a dedicated student support centre that can help you get back on top of things. Talk to your tutor, your fellow students and your friends and family to see how they can help you.

  • Talk to your boss

When you embark on a period of study, talk to your employer. They’ll be able to help you determine the best working hours for you and the company. If you’re able to suggest practical solutions and take responsibility for the change in the rota then this will demonstrate using your initiative too.

  • Save some time for yourself

It can be so easy to get caught up in study and work responsibilities, but it really is important to remember ourselves. Schedule in some ‘me’ time each week to relax, socialise, exercise, reward yourself when you achieve each goal – however small – and try to get as much rest as you can squeeze in.

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.

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