Many professionals working as carers seek to enhance their lives by undertaking some form of further education.
Equally securing part-time employment is not only a rite of passage but in many instances a necessity for thousands of Australian students as they look to derive an income to support their lifestyle while studying.
But choosing to study and work at the same time is not without its challenges.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) suggests several strategies for helping people achieve a balance between their working lives and their study commitments.
CDU says your first step should be to approach your employer to explore any workplace support that may be available. Talk to them about what you hope to achieve through your study, making sure to outline that it may even enhance your current position.
Making it Work
They may be in a position to offer employer-funded training, or additional study leave or they may come up with an option that would allow you to take flexi-time, job share or reduce your current hours.
You may also like to consider getting approval to take your annual leave in smaller chunks to cover times when you may have an assignment due, an exam pending or on occasions when you are required to undergo practical training times, it says.
The International Career Institute (ICI) believes organisation is the key to keeping up your work commitments while also achieving your study goals.
ICI suggests keeping your study and work materials in separate places, as this will make it easier to locate them when you are rushing between your professional and academic commitments.
It may also be worth using a physical or digital calendar to make notes of both study and work schedules to keep track of important dates. When doing so, ICI says it’s also important to factor in time for study into your weekly planning, and to start all assignments early so you have a buffer should the unexpected happen.
CDU says it’s important to think on your feet when juggling these two important areas of your life. Where possible, consider using your company as a basis for assignments or research projects, it says.
“Create opportunities to showcase your growing skillset as well as reduce the time and stress involved in researching unknown organisations. Many students also take time during work lunch hours for reading, assignment researching or reviewing exam notes. You may even find time to listen to lectures during your daily commute or at lunch.”
Another tip is to ensure you take care of your physical health when attempting to do your best at both work and study. ICI says you will need to accept that from time to time you may need to re-order your priorities. No matter how frantic your schedule is, it’s important to make time for exercise and to eat healthily to ensure your mind is rested and your body is up for the challenges that may lie ahead, it says.
Both organisations say managing stress levels and burnout is a critical part of exceeding your career and academic goals.
Stress is an inevitable part of running such a high-octane life, however, if your job performance or academic results begin to suffer, it may be time to be proactive. Start by scheduling enforced relaxation time, otherwise, you’ll feel guilty when you take time out.
When it begins to feel overwhelming, try to remember why it is you put yourself in this position. Remind yourself why you are making such sacrifices and remember to celebrate the little wins, as well as the major ones.