Graduate school can be challenging in and of itself, so when you add a full-time job into the equation, your success will depend on how efficiently you manage your time. Doing the work-and-school juggle isn’t easy, but it’s possible to excel at both. Here are some tips for juggling work and grad school successfully:
1. Keep track of deadlines.
Between work projects and term papers, your deadline schedule might seem like one big blur. The only way to ensure you don’t hand work in late or totally forget about an exam is to mark it on your calendar, either the old-fashioned way on paper or digitally. If you go the digital route, you can even set reminders and alerts to keep you on your toes.
2. Use your commuting time wisely.
If there’s a way to avoid being behind the wheel, taking a bus, subway, or railroad is a great way to sneak in some reading or study time. Along those lines, you should also try to take advantage of other moments in the day when small pockets of free time arise, by always keeping study notes handy. You could also sneak in a work phone call if you have a gap between classes at school.
3. Don’t overload your schedule.
Take as many courses as needed to maintain full-time student status, or make the decision to go part-time. Either way, don’t try to rush through your graduate school program. It’s better to take an extra semester or two and do well, than to burn yourself out by taking too many credits.
4. Allow time for schoolwork in your daily schedule.
Just as you’d put a webinar or meeting into your email calendar, designate time in your day to your studies. Perhaps it’s an hour after dinner or smaller windows of time, such as half of your lunch hour. Once you write down your intention to study and set aside a time to do it, you’re more likely to follow through.
5. Work on projects or papers a little every day, instead of cramming.
It’s easy to put a large project on the back burner if the due date is a few weeks away, but all-nighters aren’t a great idea when you have to get up for work in the morning. That method may have worked occasionally during your college years, but the nature of graduate work, as students from Olivet Nazarene University graduate school would attest, is a lot of reading, research, and critical thinking. That’s not the kind of work you want to be doing at 3 a.m.
6. Be upfront about your school commitment and get your boss’ support.
Trying to better yourself with a graduate degree is always a positive thing, but keeping it a secret at work will only lead to potential problems. For the simple reason that there may be times when you’ll have to leave early to take a final, or perhaps you want to print something out from your office printer, and you don’t want to have to make up a cover story every time. Of course, you have to be willing to make up any lost work time by staying late on a non-school night or taking some work home with you. The key is to strike the right balance so that you’re not neglecting either of your responsibilities.
7. Make technology work for you.
It’s easy to get addicted to your smartphone or tablet, whether it’s hanging out on your favorite social media sites or playing Candy Crush, but make sure that it doesn’t become a procrastination crutch. Give yourself a time limit on technology fun, and incorporate some mobile apps into your repertoire that’ll help keep your tasks organized, or allow you to study on the go.
It will take sacrifices on your part to do well in graduate school and still give 100% at the office, but if you’re determined and organized, you can make it happen.
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