How to fit your studies around your job

Working and studying at the same time is demanding.

Here’s how to manage your time effectively.

Know how you spend your time effectively.

First, look at how you currently spend your time. If you don’t know, log everything you do from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. Do this for a few days.

Plan, plan, plan

Plan ahead so you know how much you need to do each day and each week. This will prevent anything becoming urgent, so you can avoid last-minute cramming and studying late into the night, which will only add to your stress levels.

Plan your study time as follows:

• What’s required? How many units, books, assignments and assessments are involved?
• What are your deadlines, and assignment and assessment dates?
• Write down any key dates.

Create an outline of what you need to study over a given time. You may be able to complete one or more units in a week, or you may take several weeks to complete one unit.

Make more time

Free up more time in your working day for study. This is easier than you think. Get up earlier and gain an extra hour at the start of the day. Set aside 30 minutes at lunch, or one to two hours in the evening, instead of watching TV or spending time on social media. Read and review your notes at quieter points in the day.

Leaving work on time can also make a big difference to the amount of time you have for studying. Does work allow you to take study time? If so, make the most of it and plan that study time well.

Prioritise at work

Prioritise your tasks, and only work on what’s important or really is part of your responsibilities. Avoid reacting to every email, call or new task. Manage them with all your other priorities, so you don’t take on too much. Create good boundaries to the start and end of your day, and know when to say no.

Become study-efficient

You can take more in if you study in short bursts. Try the following for each study session: decide what you’re going to study (based on your plan), preview the work for the session, and work for 20 to 25 minutes. Review what you’ve just studied, and then take a five-minute break.

Repeat that work-break sequence for one to two hours, and then take a longer break. Review what you’ve studied at the end of the day to help you remember it better. At the end of the week, review what you’ve studied that week. The more you review, the more you’ll remember.

Mind maps are an effective way to take notes during your studies. Use one or two sheets for each unit. They create a colourful image of the study material and are easier to read and review than pages of notes.

Write down the key points on postcards. Use these to test and review the material in those quiet moments during the day, or on your daily commute.

Stop studying (sometimes)

Ensure you take time out from studying. Take a break between finishing work and starting your studies, and plan in time for exercise and socialising. Do something totally unrelated to numbers at least once a day.

This article appeared in our summer 2018 issue of 20 magazine.

Clare Evans is a time-management and productivity coach.

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