Five tips for managing work and school

Paying for rent, food, tuition, textbooks, and hanging out with friends can add up to quite a bit- particularly when working with a student budget. In order to finance everything, most of us find ourselves working and dipping in to student loans and grants. Managing a full-time semester and a part time job (or two in some cases- including mine) can be incredibly daunting, but most definitely a necessary evil. 

I’ve had two jobs my entire university career and have come across some ways to manage both 5 courses and 2 part time jobs. This article should help some of you balance that workload as well!

1. Agenda

Scheduling is a huge part of making this insanity work. Be it using an agenda, a white board, an app on your phone- find something that works for you! I’ve found scheduling all of my timing for shifts and the amount of time I think I need allotted for each class is helpful so that I can still make sure that I have time to myself. Some things that can be really helpful can include both monthly and weekly day planners. These will allow you to choose what really needs focus at what point in the month or week, and some planners allow you to schedule hourly, which is really helpful when factoring in shifts! Overall, having some kind of a comprehensive plan is incredibly important to keeping on top of work and school. 

2. Rest

Along with the scheduling comes proper rest. If you’re going to school full time you are probably putting in the hours equivalent to a full time job- or at least another part time one. If you’re doing this and working, you can effectively assume you’re working full time, at least to a mental capacity. Ensuring that you get the right amount of rest for you will help make all of this so much easier. 

3. Setting realistic goals and limitations

You know you have two essays due on Monday, a midterm on Friday, and two shifts this week but your co-worker just offered you another shift and you could really use the cash…

This is where you need to take a step back. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of needing money so badly you’re willing to sacrifice something else for it, but is it really worth doing less than what you wanted for that midterm? Or handing those essays in late? While working and going to school you need to be acutely aware of what you can handle as far as workload goes without sacrificing one for the other. 

4. Setting time for yourself

It’s easy to get into a loop where you do nothing but work and study in this situation- which is usually not the healthiest way of living. You need to take some time for yourself, schedule it in to your agenda if you have to! Just take a second every day to check in with yourself. What do you need? Have you eaten? Have you slept enough? How’s your mental health? How’s your physical health? These are all things that can easily get out of hand without us even realizing until it’s done some actual damage to our lives in one way or another. Check in with yourself- even just while walking to class- and understand that you can change your plan if you desperately need it. 

5. Find a way to destress

This looks different for everybody. For some people it’s going to the gym, for others it’s laying down and listening to some music in the dark. For me, it’s yoga or archery (depending on how I’m feeling about the situation). You need to find a way to calm down and work it into your schedule regularly. At least once a week find a time to do this activity- it will do wonders for easing your stress just a little bit, which in turn will alleviate some pressure. Plus, you get to do something you really love doing once a week! It gives you something to look forward to and can help your mental health stabilize should you need it.

Everyone uses these steps differently, and they’re the ones that have worked best for me. The biggest benefit is finding a way to destress and keeping on top of things this way is at least worth trying. If some of these steps don ‘t work for you then modify them- make them your own. But they’re a good starting point for any working student.