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Studying and working full time: get the balance right

by Amanda Collins
Working full time while studying online means that you can put food on the table while at the same time gaining the skills to build a wonderful new future. But this combination of work and study can at times feel overwhelming. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Below, we’ve outlined a six step Success Plan, because with a little organisation, you can find the perfect balance!

1)  Create a study space

There are so many things to do at home, from watching your favourite TV show to cleaning the floors, it’s easy to get distracted. You need a space where you can slip away and focus solely on your studies, whether that be a whole room, or a corner in your bedroom.

Once you have selected your study, here’s what you need to do:

  • Get inspired – Fill your study space with inspiration! Put up quotes and images to remind you of your goals.
  • Keep everything together – Keep everything to do with your course in your study area. This ensures you won’t waste time looking for things.
  • Surround yourself with learning – Put up your schedule, as well as key study notes to immerse yourself in learning.
  • Dedicated study time – When you are in your study space you are off limits, so turn off your phone and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

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For more home study ideas check out our top 5 tips for creating a productive study space.

2)  Plan your life

In order to make sure you have time for everything, you need a plan which aims at balance.

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  • Plan – Look at your course and work out when you want to complete each study period. Be realistic about when you think you can have work completed.
  • Organise – Use a wall calendar to work out when you will need to have readings and assignments done. Leave a time buffer in case emergencies arise.
  • Balance – Enter any family, work and personal commitments into the calendar. That way you know what is coming up and you can plan your study around it.

Once you have your schedule, spend ten minutes each week to plan your weekly study sessions. Also, look for small slots of time where you would usually not do much, like travelling on the train, and plan to use those times to read.

3)  Break study into small sized chunks

To keep our brains performing at peak it’s best to study for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. Having short study sessions every day or every few days ensures that the material remains fresh in your mind, and gives you time to consider what you are learning.

  • Set goals – Know what you want to have achieved at the end of each study session and use your allocated time to work towards that goal. This will keep you focused and cut down on procrastination.
  • Prioritise tasks – Prioritise your tasks, start bigger assignments earlier. Give yourself time to digest what you are learning.

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4)  If you have a problem, speak up!

If you are confused, struggling or just don’t understand something in your course, don’t suffer in silence, speak up and ask questions. Your tutors, trainers and assessors are all there to help you, and the chances are you’re not the only student with the same question. At Open Colleges our virtual campus OpenSpace allows students to contact their trainers and assessors directly, as well as participate in online forums.
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5)  Keep healthy

It’s easy when we are busy to cut out exercise and increase our intake of fast food, but it is at these times when we most need to be healthy. To perform at your peak, stick to a healthy eating plan and get a little exercise each day. Still not convinced? Check out the list below for some motivation!
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Exercise
Exercise boosts chemicals in our brains which help us to deal with stress. It also releases endorphins which make us happy and reduce anxiety. Cardiovascular workouts can even help create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance!

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Food
You brain consumes around 20% of your total kilojoule intake daily! Feeding it with the right foods like fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrain breads and cereals will help with concentration, memory and mood.

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6)  Reward yourself

It is important to reward yourself when you meet your goals, it keeps you motivated and gives you something to look forward to. Take yourself out for breakfast, go for a bush walk, or buy that shirt you have been eyeing off. You deserve it!
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Studying online while working full time is completely achievable, it just takes a bit of planning. If you have already started online study or are considering taking up a course, spend a little time working through the six step Success Plan and enjoy the life balance it brings.

Change your life today!

Do you want to change careers, get ahead in your career or feed a lifelong interest? Open Colleges has over 100 flexible, online courses that allow you to fit study around your lifestyle.

8 Responses

  1. Catherine Sheehan says:

    Thanks for the tips- will try and implement!

  2. Jayne Shinnie says:

    Thanks for these great tips. Just need to try harder to implement them and keep on task.

  3. Kaye Hyde says:

    Will try my best to implement them

  4. Caroline Mitchell says:

    Thank you for the tips, I will try to keep on track with everything.

  5. Loyalty says:

    Great source of information.
    Must Subscribe.!!

  6. Terry Murray says:

    Hi thanks for the tips its something I deal with in everyday life work but to study and work sounds like it take a bit of working around I give it my best but its my health condition that set me back.

  7. Zadia says:

    The tips helps, I will try to keep reminding myself, sometimes I off balance between study, work and life. I may be slow but I will keep up my best.

  8. MJarentz says:

    Seems like a common sense article. However, I think there’s another aspect to working during college.

    When I was in college many of my peers didn’t work and would call mom and dad with cockamamie stories of why they needed some more spending money. Not only did that not teach them accountability, it was usually symptomatic of their lack of commitment to getting through the work and getting their degree.

    I wore a hairnet and worked at the student’s cafeteria, at my Small State U. while the rich kids I graduated with sat and watched and laughed. However, I am the only one to actually get a degree.

    It may not make you a ton of money, but it WILL help whittle the debt, better to not take debt than to have to pay it off.

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