By Ron Stefanski, a faculty member in Kendall’s Business program
Having a job and going to school at the same time is difficult—and requires effort and a constant shift in your priorities. I struggled with this myself while I was earning my MBA, working full time, and trying to launch a business. Here, I offer tips to help you successfully balance school and work:
Start with your approach to time management. The most important thing you can do is optimize your time. How you use each hour will determine how successful you are both in your coursework and everyday life. I recommend scheduling your day in increments of 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Why? When using block scheduling, you’re giving yourself a window of time in which you only focus on a single task. It doesn’t matter if that time is for family, work or school. If you carefully schedule your day—and stick to it—you will be much more efficient, which may ultimately lead to stress reduction as well.
Consciously avoid distractions. Between your cell phone, work responsibilities, school projects and social media, it’s likely that your attention is frequently scattered. To combat this, practice being laser-focused on one task at a time. Research conducted at Stanford University found that those who multitask are less productive. By doing “less” (read: one task at a time) you will accomplish more. When you start a school project or are at work, put your phone away, close your social media accounts and limit other distractions. You’d be amazed at how much you can complete in a short amount of time when you try this technique.
Combine your school and work experiences. Every professor loves to hear students relate projects to real-world examples. It shows that you’re using critical thinking and understand how assignments relate to your work. Whenever possible, use work experience in your assignments and try to include what you’re learning in your work. This way, you can multipurpose your projects and continually reinforce what you’re learning, which will ultimately benefit you in both settings.
Set expectations with family, friends, managers and coworkers. School and work should frequently (or always) be your top priorities. Explain this to the people in your life who will be impacted, which will set reasonable expectations and reduce stress levels for everyone. Best of all, it means you can also regularly schedule time to spend with your loved ones.
Frequently remind yourself of your motivation, your passion. You enrolled at Kendall for a very good reason—to earn a degree that will help you further your career. Whenever you feel stressed or tired, remember why you’re getting your degree. Even if work is stressing you out and your schedule is tight, realize that your coursework may already be positively impacting your everyday work and your approach to your career—great motivation for every day of the week.
Ron Stefanski teaches in the undergraduate business program at Kendall College’s School of Business. He’s also a marketing consultant and internet entrepreneur who owns a portfolio of websites, including JobsForTeensHQ.com and OneHourProfessor.com.