Studying and working can certainly be hard. However, with the right mindset and study plan, tackling a new course while working fulltime is definitely achievable. With more and more people enrolling in new courses to boost their career, managing study while maintaining a job is something many need to master. With that in mind, check out our essential tips on how to study while working fulltime and set yourself up for success from the get-go.
How to study while working fulltime?
1) Establish why you’re doing your course
Ok, first things first. What’s your reason for wanting to complete this course? This is important. You may not think it, but knowing why you want to complete your course can be super helpful.
It’s going to give you that motivation to do well, but also if and when things get a little be though this WHY is going to help you get through it. Life is always throwing us curve balls. Work might get hard. The course may be difficult. Family life can be tricky. All these things can knock us off our A-game.
So this is where knowing your WHY can be so powerful. It has the power to help you through the hardest of times and finish it out to the end. So what’s your why? Do you want to progress your career? Change careers? Earn more money so you can give your family a better life so you can get a nice car? Is it for the self-accomplishment you’ll feel after you complete the course? Or do you just really enjoy what your studying?
Your WHY will help you stay motivated and study on those days that you just don’t feel up to it. So before you begin, find out the reason that you want to complete this course and how it’s going to benefit you and your life. For more check out our post on “how does studying with a purpose help you?“
2)Find your perfect study spot
Having a dedicated study place is crucial. You want it to be somewhere you can just go and focus completely on your course work. This place, whether its a room in your house, a coffee shop or college library will be somewhere that’s free from distractions. Check out our post on “how to study effectively at home without getting distracted” for some useful tips on setting up your perfect study environment.
Where you study plays a big role in how effectively learn. When you can study effectively you are studying smart and this means you can get more done in less time. This is why it’s important that your study environment is free from distractions so no TV’s, phones or anything that’s going to pull your attention away from what you are doing.
Set up your study area so that you have what you need and there’s nothing that’s going to pull your attention away from what you are trying to learn. The better you focus the more you will learn and the less time you’ll need to spend studying. Check out our post on “how to focus better and boost concentration” for more useful tips on how to stay focused and get the most out of your study sessions.
3)Make a study plan
When you first begin your course your going to get an outline of the course work that you’ll be expected to get done. Take this opportunity to make a study plan. Look at all the readings and plan out when you’ll be able to do these.
A good way to begin would be to see how much reading material there is. Then you can set a plan of how much you’re going to read per day. So you might say you’ll read 20 pages per day or 30 pages. Whatever works for you. This will also depend on how fast you read. The amount you read per day will depend on the total amount you need to complete over all and then how fast you would like to get it done.
The benefit of this rather than leaving it all to closer to the exam date is that it gives you more time to really learn the material and understand what it is that you are learning. Plus it will also help with the anxiety and stress that’s likely to increase closer to the exams.
Also, breaking your reading material up into sections like this gives you a sense of self-accomplishment. Which in turn helps keep the motivation up. Also, having this out of the way leaves more time closer to the exams to focus in on those areas that you are not so confident with or just need more focus.
Likewise, you should clearly establish when any assignments or course work is due. Then work these into your study plan. This will all serve to keep you very organized and on top of your course work which will reduce stress. Planning early is very important when you’re trying to balance study with work. Having this done will allow you to confidently continue with your job without feeling overwhelmed doing both at the same time.
You can also use this plan to set yourself daily or weekly goals that you can write on your calendar which means you’ll be less likely to put them off and can tick them off as you do them.
4) Be realistic with your time
Building on the last point, it’s important to be realistic with how much time you have available to study. Working and doing a college course is hard. There’s no point denying it, especially when you have a family to look after too. But despite this it certainly doable and achievable. Many people today choose to study while working fulltime. It’s nice not having the full financial pressures of being a fulltime student. It’s nice having financial independence while getting a degree or masters.
However, we can only do what we can do so it’s important to be realistic with the amount of time that you have available to study. The last thing you need is to put tremendous pressure on yourself from the get-go.
So plan out how many hours a day that you have available to study and then build your plan around this.
5) Be clever with your time
While working fulltime you may feel like you have little to no time available to study but being clever with your time will allow you to get more than you think done. There’s plenty of opportunities throughout the day where we could read through notes or glance over some revision cards.
Every 5 minutes counts. You’d be surprised how all these little periods time adds up over the course of the day. If you commute to work on a bus or train, use this time to read through some notes. Likewise, if you drive why not try to get some of your lectures in audio format and listen to them on your way in and home.
Also, use your lunch break wisely. Do some reading here. While cooking at home try listen to some course work or learn some definitions or formulas that you may need to know for your exams. Why not read some notes while relaxing in the bath?
When you stop and think there’s plenty of opportunities throughout the day where we could do some extra study. This is why revision cards can be so handy. Keep them with you so while your waiting on something or have a few minutes you can just take them out and read.
6)Keep your employer informed
When you begin your course be sure to tell your boss. Most companies are very supportive of their staff pursuing further education, especially if it’s going to benefit their career within the company. Plus, keeping your employer informed allows you the opportunity to plan with them your holidays and time off.
Here you can be constructive with any upcoming holidays. Use these around your exam time. This way you can plan some extra revision time, even if you feel quite confident it’s nice to have those extra days just before the exam to revise and get some good quality sleep. The last thing you want before the exams is to feel super stressed and end up having to study all night.
7) Get proper sleep
Working, studying and balancing family life is difficult. It can be and will be tempting to sacrifice your sleep to get a few extra hours of studying done. However, sleep is crucial. It will affect how well you study and how you perform every day at work and in your exams.
So one of the most important things in how to study while working fulltime is to ensure that you get good quality sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommend that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
8) Eat a healthy diet
Just as important as sleep, is food. What we eat has a huge impact on our health and how we perform every day. Eating a healthy balanced diet is particularly important when you are trying to balance work, study and family life. The East thing we need is to get run down and sick.
Plus what we eat impacts how well we study and when time is limited we want to maximise how well we learn. Here certain foods can help. It may be tempted to reach for the quick snacks and takeaways but this won’t serve us well. We need food that is going to keep our energy stable throughout the day so we can perform.
Check out our posts on “what is the best food for your brain” and “32 foods to eat while studying.” Eating smaller meals throughout the day can be quite helpful as it will keep our energy levels stable so that we can perform well at work and study effectively.
9) Find a study buddy
Partnering up with someone in your course is a good idea. This person can help you stay accountable and on track in your course. It can also be helpful when you need someone to talk to and for helping you stay motivated.
It’s also a good idea as you can help each other through any parts of the course that you are having difficulty with. You can bounce ideas off each other and arrange study sessions together to change things up in case you hit a study wall.
10) Don’t forget to take some “you” time
While it may seem like you have little to no time available for yourself it is important to make time for yourself. Everybody needs to rest and unwind so make sure to schedule in some time where you can just relax and spend time with family and friends.
Just like sleep and eating healthy is important to you successfully managing work and study, so too is taking some time to relax. This downtime is crucial. It helps you avoid burn out and to get back on track and study effectively the next day.
11) Master some productivity methods
Effective study is the key to success and it is even more crucial while working fulltime. This is where learning some new study skills is a good idea before you start your course. These can really help make your study sessions more effective, meaning that you can learn more in less time leaving more time for your work and family. Below are some resources that you may find useful.
Learning to read faster will speed up how quickly you get through all the reading material in your course. Spend some time trying to master speed reading by checking out Tim Ferriss’s blog.
Effective note taking
How you take notes can be of real benefit to improving your studying sessions. Effective note taking during your lectures can reduce the amount of time spent later organising and re-doing those notes. For example, you don’t want to spend all of your time writing down everything your lecturer says, you just want to write down the important points.
Studyblue allows you to make flashcards so you can study at anytime or when you are on the go. You can also study from flashcards that are made by others to test your knowledge. It has over 400 million flashcards.
Myhomework is a digital student planner that allows you to track your classes, assignments, tests, projects and more.
Freedom is an app and website blocker for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome so that you can focus on your studies and remain productive.
When you find yourself asking how to study while working fulltime keep these useful tips in mind. By far making a plan and starting early will definitely make things much easier for you. And don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help if you need it. Tell them what are you trying to achieve. Friends and family can be quite supportive, so too can your employer. Managing studies while working full-time has it’s benefits but also has its difficulties. So at the end of the day, remember not to take on too much and be sure to take some time for yourself.