Whether you’re pursuing a bachelor's degree, master’s degree, PhD, or post-doc, being a full-time student while also working can be tough. You’re balancing a job, classes and schoolwork, and family. Here are some time management tips to help you be successful in balancing all of the important pieces of your life.
Take advantage of small pieces of time in your day
You might not be able to schedule big chunks of time for studying, so try to capitalize on smaller bits of time. For example, the ten minutes you spend waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting for a lecture to begin are great opportunities to get a little bit of studying in. Here are some ways you can make your studying more mobile:
Take a stack of flashcards with you on errands
Leave yourself voice notes, or enable voice-to-text, to ‘jot down’ ideas for that paper you’re working on.
To study diagrams, use a picture on your phone.
All of these strategies don’t require using a bulky laptop, so you can get a few minutes of studying time on the go when you find a few free minutes. Try to save problem sets for more structured study time.
Trying to simultaneously accomplish many high-level tasks at once is generally not recommended, instead try to incorporate studying into more mundane tasks. An example of this might be listening to an audio lecture while folding laundry or cooking dinner.
Calendars are your friends! Whether you prefer a daybook/planner, a physical calendar, or an online tool like iCal or Google Calendar, this is a great way to keep you organized. Taking a quick peek at your calendar before you making plans can make sure you aren’t double-booking yourself or signing up for something the night before a big exam or work presentation.
While a weekly and/or a monthly calendar can give you a good bird’s eye view for what your schedule for the next few weeks will look like, it’s still a good idea to have a to-do list. Keep a running list of tasks and assignments you need to be on top of. As soon as something comes to your attention, jot it down. Having one central list for all of this information should ensure that tasks aren’t forgotten and fall through the cracks. A list like this can also help you prioritize. Ask yourself, “What is the most pressing item on my to-do list right now?” Then, get started from there. Plus, you get the satisfaction of checking items off your list once they’re completed - such a rewarding feeling!
With these tools on your side, you’ll be ready to tackle your very busy schedule. When times get tough, remind yourself why you took on this challenge in the first place - both your studies and your work are important to you. Remember to take care of yourself. Eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, get outdoors, and spend quality time with loved ones.