Online courses have so many benefits. They offer flexibility and the freedom to choose study hours and pace and are more convenient for those who don’t have much time. Studying while working also means you have an income to pay for your fees and other expenses.
While online learning carries numerous benefits, balancing the two and other life issues can be tough. The coursework, just like in a traditional classroom setting, requires a lot of attention otherwise you may end up failing your degree.
This article highlights some tips that can be helpful for those studying while working.
Have A Study/Work/Life Plan
The first thing you should do is ensure that you have a plan incorporating everything you need to achieve in life. Your plan should include how you will achieve your role as an employee or as a self-employed individual, how you will fulfill your roles in your family and friendships, and how you will go about your degree. With a plan, it will be easy to allocate dates and time to everything you hope to achieve.
Find The Perfect Study Time
This could be early in the morning, late at night, or during the day when you are not working. Find that specific time of the day when you can soak into your notes and grasp the most difficult concepts. While you can study at any time throughout the day, it’s important to have time when you will sit uninterrupted for an hour, two or even more. It doesn’t have to be daily; a few times a week will do.
Find The Perfect Study Spot
In addition to finding your perfect study time, you should find your perfect study spot too. This could be an empty office in your building, the study at home, a library, the coffee shop, or your garden, among others. Look for a space where you will have maximum concentration and minimal distractions while studying.
If you don’t have it, try and create one. For instance, you could clear up the garage for some reading space, or renovate your old office to suit your study preferences. Having a dedicated reading area can improve your productivity and prevent procrastination.
Study During Breaks And Your Commute
Over lunch and tea breaks and during your commute, instead of spending all that time on social media, take advantage of the free time to study. Since at such times you can expect some distractions, maybe you can skip new concepts and revise what you’ve already covered. Some study questions or flashcards can be helpful for your break and commute study.
Learn To Say No
If you want to graduate on time, and with good grades, learn to say no to distractions. It is okay to say no when friends and family members want to hang out during your dedicated study time.
Explain to them that you need time to focus on your studies so you can graduate with good grades and advance your career. However, don’t turn away that family member who comes to you when they have an emergency or that depressed friend who needs some support. Know what can, and what can’t, wait.
Take Good Care Of Your Health And Well Being
Illness, weakness and fatigue will neither make you a good employee nor a good student. If you want to perform well in your work and studies, you have to take good care of yourself. There are five key steps you can take for your health and well being:
One, ensure that you exercise regularly. Going to the gym a couple of times a week, walking to work, joining a dance class, or doing some at home exercise are some of the great steps you can take to keep your body active.
Two, eat healthy. With work, school and other life issues at hand, fast foods and energy bars may look like a good option to help you stay energized throughout the day. However, this will only work against you in the long run.
The better option would be to eat healthy, balanced meals on most days of the week. You can either prepare meals at home and bring some packed food to work, or you can find a restaurant or cafe near your workplace that serves healthy meals that you love. The former is cheaper and gives you an opportunity to try out different ingredients.
Three, find time to relax and get enough sleep every day. Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night is essential if you want to stay attentive the next day as you study and work.
Four, make time for friends and family. Hanging out with other people is good for your well-being. Therefore, don’t let your life revolve around work and study only. Find time to socialize, share and listen, and learn from others.
Finally, make plans for travel. Make travel plans based on your budget. Traveling can help you to relax. It can also alleviate stress.
Join Online And Offline Discussions
Through discussions, you can understand difficult concepts more easily. Therefore, be part of discussions with other students from your class. Most institutions will offer students a platform for discussions. Take advantage of that and ask your fellow students if they have formed groups elsewhere. If they haven’t, you can initiate the formation of one or more.
Ensure You Have All the Resources You Need To Study Online
You will need a good internet connection, a computer and some software for your online class. Your lecturer will direct you on the specific software you need to install, especially if you will be having discussions or presentations online.
Other than that, you should also look up the software options that could make your life as a student easier. For instance, calendars, time management software, flashcard software, a document scanner, and productivity software among others. Also, you may require a tablet for easy learning during lunch breaks and your commute.
Free Up More Time To Study
If you never get enough time to study, it could be because you are spending too much time on things that don’t add much value to your life. Look at your day to day activities and cancel out the ones that you don’t need. For instance, you can reduce the amount of time you spend on TV and social media.
Apply What You Are Learning To Your Work
Don’t wait until you complete your course, or until your employer gives you a promotion, to start using your skills. Apply the new skills and knowledge as soon as you gain it. For instance, if you are studying for a nursing RN to NP transition, don’t wait until you have another job and a better salary to start applying the knowledge you are gaining.
Apply all new knowledge that is useful in improving your performance at your current job. As you apply the knowledge, you will continue to have a better understanding and application can also improve information retention. Additionally, doing so can improve your performance in the workplace and make you the ideal candidate for promotions.
Avoid Workplace Stress
If you are stressed at work, you won’t be able to study well. Therefore, do your best to avoid conflict with your boss, workmates, and the customers your business is serving. If your boss has an issue with your performance, find ways to improve.
Taking an online course is a good way to do that, especially if your performance issues are due to lack of the right skills. If you have ever handed in files late, you probably need to work on your time management and productivity. Find the root cause of the issue and work on it.
Talk To Your Boss On Time
Most bosses are supportive, but to get their support you have to talk to them early enough. Let your boss know you are signing up for a course and what they can do to support you. Employers can offer support by allowing you to clump your shifts together when you have exams, allowing you to split your annual leave so you have enough time for exams during all semesters, and offering education loans if you don’t have enough to pay for your education.
Plan For Your Absence
Once you inform your employer, he or she will be able to plan for your absence so that things keep flowing smoothly when you are taking your exams. Other than work, you may have to plan your absence elsewhere. For instance, if you are a parent or a caregiver for aging parents, you need to look for someone to take care of your loved ones during exam time or any other time you may be expected to show up at the campus.
Working and studying at the same time can be tough but with the right plan, you will get through everything smoothly. Be encouraged by the fact that every class you take brings you closer to your career goals, and school will not last forever. Learning should be continual though!