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Studying and working full time: get the balance right

by Amanda Collins
**This is an updated post**
Online study is a great choice for people who are currently working full time and don’t want to quit their day job. It means you can still put food on the table while gaining the skills and knowledge to build an exciting, new career. However, the combination of full time work and study can sometimes feel a little bit overwhelming. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
Below, we’ve put together a six step success plan that can help you manage your study time as well as your life’s other commitments.
With a little bit of planning, you can find the perfect balance between work, study and play.

1)  Create a study space

The home can be full of distractions. That’s why it’s important to have a space where you can slip away and focus solely on your studies. This could be a quiet corner in your bedroom or it could mean clearing out the spare room and turning it into a secluded study sanctuary.

Once you’ve got your study space, 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’re in your study space, you should be off limits, so turn off your phone and make sure other household members know that you’re trying to focus.

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

balance work and study

2)  Plan your life

So that you have time for work, study and other commitments, you need to create a study schedule to avoid being overwhelmed.
Here are some tips on where to start:

  • 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 calendar to work out when you will need to have readings and assignments done. Leave a time buffer in case emergencies arise. Use a physical wall calendar or download a scheduling app – whichever works best for you.
  • Balance – Enter any family, work and personal commitments into the calendar. That way you know what’s 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.
You can also get creative with the ways you study if you’re learning online, as you’re not limited by scheduled lessons or a physical classroom. Instead of flicking through your socials on the way to work, why not use that time to study?

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’re learning.

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your study sessions:

  • 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.

finding balance between study and work

4)  If you have a problem, speak up!

If you’re confused, struggling or just don’t understand something in your course, don’t suffer in silence – speak up and ask questions. Your Trainers and Assessors are there to help you, so make use of their knowledge!

At OC, we’ve spent years honing our online delivery methods. Our virtual campus, OpenSpace, has been designed with the student in mind. Through OpenSpace, you can connect with a Study Buddy, participate in forums and contact your Trainers and Assessors for help when you need it.

5)  Keep healthy

When you’re busy, it’s easy to let your exercise routine lapse and increase your intake of fast food. But this is the time when you need to focus most on your health. 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:

  • 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!
  • Food – Your 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.
  • Sleep – Getting enough sleep can help your mental and physical health. A good night’s sleep is important for healthy brain function, and a lack of sleep is linked to poor concentration and a serious downturn in productivity. Poor sleep is also linked to depression, weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

6)  Reward yourself

It’s 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’ve been eyeing off. You deserve it!

balance work and study

Obtaining an online qualification is an achievable goal

Pursuing further study doesn’t mean you have to quit your day job. Obtaining a qualification while working full time is completely achievable, it just takes a bit of planning. And while it can sometimes be challenging, when you study online with OC you’re never alone.
We have plenty of resources to help you stay motivated and inspired, and we have a team of dedicated Learning Support Officers who can help you craft a realistic study schedule, give you tips on staying motivated and much more.
What are you waiting for? Take a look at our huge range of online courses and find the qualification that’s right for you. And if you’re still not 100% certain if online learning is right for you, you can start a 7 day free online trial today to see what it’s really like to study with one of Australia’s leading online education providers.

Everything can happen

Do you want to change careers, get ahead in your career or feed a lifelong interest? Open Colleges has a huge range of 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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