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!