We’ve put together a few tips to help you manage your studying whilst working full time.
Studying for an additional qualification can give you the next much-needed step on your career path: you will bring new skills to the workplace, be open to new opportunities and develop your interests.
However, it is an extra workload that some students do find challenging despite it being very rewarding. Whether you’re studying for an apprenticeship, NVQ, distance learning qualification or a workplace training course, you will need to be on top of your game when it comes to time management and dedication to your studies.
- Start by making a plan: Although this may seem like precious time spent on a task that is not strictly a necessity it will help you a lot later down the line. Begin by finding out when your deadlines or exams are and mark them on a calendar or in your diary. Next, look at what dates you will be studying each module so you can grasp what areas you will be studying throughout your course. Also be aware that some tutors may ask for practice questions or draft assignments to be sent to them at a specific point – this is simply so they have enough time to mark the drafts and get them back to you, before your final submission.
- Remind yourself of those dates: Whether you’ve added them to a diary, a Google calendar or on a wall planner, make sure the dates are written down in a place where you will see them regularly. That way no deadlines will creep up on you! Think about displaying a timetable at work, at home or on your computer.
- Schedule some study time: This next step takes a bit of discipline. Each week put some time aside to do your studies. As you will be working full time, be aware that some evenings you will want a break or perhaps you will have other commitments. Instead work around these commitments and make your studies work into your schedule. Write down what your plans are for every day of the week and make sure you schedule in all of the time your tutor recommends.
- Consider when studying will work best for you: Our brains all work in different ways. For some people, they find they are most productive after work whereas others may find it difficult to engage with a fresh piece of work having done a 9 to 5 day. Instead, try studying in the mornings before you go to work or on your lunch break. You may prefer to do a few hours of solid study on a Saturday morning or break up your study over shorter periods during the week. However you choose to split your study keep it regular and in spells that are not too short that you can’t get stuck in.
- Find the perfect study place: We all know that studying whilst working full time is tricky because there never seems like enough hours in the day. But another common problem is finding a space where you can study undisturbed. Why not speak to your boss and ask if you can come in an hour early to work or stay an hour later? That way the office will be quiet and you’ll be able to get on with a bit of studying when it suits you. Otherwise, find a space at home that is free of a TV and other distractions – or perhaps you could pop to the local library.
- Don’t ignore any problems: Perhaps you’ve had a family or work emergency and you’re going to struggle to meet a deadline – let your course tutor know! They will understand and will work with you to reach a solution that suits you but also keep you progressing towards your goal. But do make sure you tell them sooner rather than later.
- Keep yourself motivated: Why are you studying for the qualification? Continually take time out to remember what you hope to gain from your qualification. Motivation will keep you working hard and help you to take the time to sit down and study.
- Remember to tell your boss: If you think it’s right, tell your boss that you’re studying for a new qualification. They may be able to offer support and will be delighted to know you’re investing in your own personal development.
- Stay balanced: Keep calm, focussed and look after yourself. To help you study at an optimum rate it’s important to take the time to look after yourself as well. Eat healthily, drink lots of water and take regular exercise. Also remember to take time out with friends and enjoy socialising. It’s important to take a breather now and then so you can feel on the ball when you do get back in to studying. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you!
- It’s okay to say no: When you are studying, and particularly when it comes close to deadlines and exams, be prepared to turn down invitations at both home and work. If you haven’t scheduled time in for a social event, and there’s no way you can shift around your study hours, it may well be best if you say no for now.