3 Keys to Studying as a Working Professional

In my first post, I mentioned that I am not completely settled in my career. I am happy where I am, but there are places where I can improve. And, as it turns out, I have found a way to improve that will open up opportunities for me in the future. So, I’m working on doing that. I am taking a certificate course.

The thought of doing coursework while working a full-time job can sometimes feel overwhelming. But, I did it for years, and just signed myself up to do it again. So, it is definitely possible. Below are my three keys for working a full-time, professional job, and completing a course or degree at the same time.

  1. Find time wherever you can. I have been dedicating my mornings to working on the blog. This is the productive – get something done – step of my morning routine. For more information on that check out my last post. I plan my course around my partner’s schedule, if he is working an evening shift I work on my course as much as possible, so when he’s off earlier I can spend more quality time with him.
  2. Make your course as accessible and flexible as possible. If you can do certain aspects of your course on your phone while commuting or taking your lunch break, do it. Read course related materials on the go. When I was a full-time student in school (and working a full-time job), I would read my school materials from my phone and dictate my notes to the Evernote app, this was especially good for English Literature courses. I maybe looked a little crazy, walking around the world talking to myself, but this was truly a fast way to work. Then when I got home, my reading was done, I just had to organize my notes and get started on my assignments and quizzes or studying. Make notes in a smaller notebook, it will be easier for you to take around. At the moment, the course I am taking is 100% online. It’s also 100% web-based which makes doing work on the go a little bit more challenging. That said, the course has a few recommended readings, that are usually articles in PDF form, so when those come around, they are downloaded to my drive and read on the go.
  3. Otherwise, this all boils down to time management. The first step, for me, is to find out how much time it takes to make progress in your course. For example, my course is broken down into lessons. Each lesson consists of several modules, which are just lengthy information dumps. Then, you have five assignments and one quiz. I know that each module takes between 5-20 minutes to get through depending on how long it is. I also know that each assignment takes between one or two hours, give or take. Once I have that information, I sit down with my planner, the course outline and I jot down my goals for the week. Taking into account my own schedule, work tasks, personal tasks, and my partner’s schedule, so I can maximize my time with him as well. Plan your time out well, and stick to that plan. Use techniques like calendar blocking to manage your time or pomodoro. Use strategies like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize what needs to be done now. Do what matters most and is the quickest to do first. Do what matters most and is the longest to do next. Do your work-work first and your studying later, but make sure you find time for it.

These are my three keys to studying while working full-time position, I hope they help you with working out how to better manage taking a course while working. Sometimes, it can be really discouraging and it can feel like you don’t have enough time in a day or week to get things done. When this happens, it’s a good idea to step back and reflect on what is truly important and focus your time and energy on that.

There are a lot of strategies and tools out there that can help you maximize your time and productivity. Phone apps, philosophies, planners, and much more!

Stay tuned if you want to see more about managing your time and increasing productivity and the tools that can help you do that. I have posts planned on planners (no pun intented), Getting Things Done, Eisenhower’s matrix, Pomodoro technique, and more!

Thanks for reading folks! As Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. So, go start doing!


How to Find Work-Life Balance?

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is the equilibrium between your career, its impact on your life, and its relationship with your personal, home life. Work-life balance in the sociological lens generally has a stronger focus on family-life for working mothers and fathers. The sociological lens outlines the difference between paid work and unpaid domestic work and the impact of women’s paid work on families. I don’t have children at the moment, so I can’t really relate, but I can say I can only imagine the numerous challenges that mothers and fathers face when they go back to the workforce and essentially double their workload. But, for now, that’s not really what this post and blog is about.

You do not have to be a parent or have kids around to have a need for work-life balance. Everyone needs equilibrium between how much focus and energy they put into their work versus their home life.

Why is work-life balance important?

If you do have kids, you should find a way to balance your work life and family life for the betterment of your children’s lives. Finding this balance would contribute to a healthy and happy family. For a lot of professionals, that means keeping your paid work at work and focusing on your family when you’re at home. Make dediciated time to your family when you are off, so you can focus on and build those relationships.

Prioritizing work-life balance would also help with making your relationship, if you’re in one, stronger as well. If you’re not in a relationship, finding a good work-life balance will give you time to date.

Prioritizing work-life balance is also beneficial, for most importantly, yourself! It means you’re prioritizing your own physical and mental health. It means you are putting your happiness first in all aspects of your life, without hindering your career progress or your personal relationships and health.

If you work from home, snuggle up with a fur baby! They make almost anything more enjoyable!

How do we achieve a work-life balance?

Making time for the people in your life. Foster a strong support system at home for yourself and your family by focusing on them when you have the time. Put your emails on quiet mode when you’re off so you are not needlessly distracted at work. If you’re like me and are in management you may need to keep an eye on your emails, so make an effort to check once an hour or two instead of having notifications on. Another email tip, if you use Outlook at work, set rules to automatically file emails into relevant folders. This will not only keep you organized with less effort, but it will also limit the amount of notifications coming your way. If something is automatically filed, you won’t get a beep notifying you of it.

As someone who works in management, I have found that it can be really difficult to set aside time to sit down and eat your lunch. Set aside a lunch hour and either close your door or physically leave the office for lunch. If you can’t manage to do this, your meal will likely be interupted.

Same thing goes for getting exercise, which is especially important and difficult if you work at a desk. If you have an hour for lunch, I would highly recommend setting aside half of it for eating and relaxing and the other half for getting some exercise. Go for a walk around or within the building you work in.

Make sure you are prioritizing your health over your work. Eventually, your health will catch up with you and impact your work, so it is best to prioritize it and prevent any health issues that can be prevented.

Obviously, if you work a physically demanding job, exercise is less important. But, meals are even more important than those who work at a desk. Your body needs fuel to support your work and if you don’t supply it, you’ll be running on empty. You’ll likely lose weight too fast and won’t gain any muscle mass. In the long term it can cause you to gain weight because your body will get into the habit of retaining fat in order to burn calories to support your work.

Mental health is also very important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I highly recommend meditation as a means of bringing your mind back to a settled place. Meditation can look different for everyone, there is no right way and no wrong way to meditate. As long as you are working to clear your mind, you are on the right track. Journalling, or some other source of reflection is highly recommended as well. It is important to touch base with yourself regularly and reflect on whether you are on the right track to meeting your goals.

If you’re interested in achieving a work-life balance, stay tuned! I will be consistently posting about the topics above and how they contribute to a healthy work-life balance. Let me know in the comments below if there are any topics in particular you’d like me to dive deeper into.