It's Monday morning, the sun is shining, and the weekend is already a distant memory. You have a full week of work ahead of you. You also have an assignment due for your distance learning course. At this point, you’ll be wondering how to balance full-time work and study.
The number of people who work full-time and also study continues to increase. This is due to the ongoing need for employees to gain additional qualifications and further develop their skills. The question then is: How do I balance a job and distance learning?
Being able to access online resources 24/7 makes this option very feasible. Gone are the days of old-fashioned 'correspondence courses', when students had to wait weeks for their study materials to be posted out! If you have a job and distance learning to do, read below on how to get the balance right, so that you can make the most of your time.
Employer support - Your job and Distance Learning
If you are studying a course related to your job, then it could be a good idea to have a conversation with your employer to discuss how best you can be supported. This may include the time that can be set aside to study within the working day or booking breaks for exams and assessments.
As with everything in life, it helps to be organised. This is especially true when combining distance learning and full-time work. Therefore, it is vital to plan ahead and organise your time well. This includes having an overview of all of your upcoming deadlines; not just in relation to your studies, but also in regards to your job.
Benjamin Franklin said "For every minute spent organising, an hour is gained"
Study and work calendar
One way to stay organised is to create a study calendar. So, get the highlighter pens out! Start by listing all the key dates, i.e. assignment deadlines. This way you will be able to look ahead to times when you may need to set aside more time. You could also add any important work events, so you have an overview of both.
If you prefer having everything online, Google Calendar is a very useful tool, and can even send reminders and notifications to your phone, so that you never miss a deadline.
You know it's going to be a challenge to work and study at the same time. Therefore, there does need to be some light at the end of the tunnel! It can be a good idea to plan strategic breaks throughout the length of your course. Whether this just means taking a few days off or planning to jet off somewhere sunny at the end of the course. This way you will hopefully feel more motivated to keep going.
Pace your studies
You don't want to try to cram all of your studies into your weekend. If you do so, you risk getting burnt out and resenting your studies or your work. You also don't want to be trying to revise for an exam at the same time as undergoing a busy period at work. Therefore, it is important to try and do little things regularly, wherever possible, as this way you can focus on getting the results you want.
Prioritisation of work and study
It may take a while for you to get used to the demands of distance learning. As you become more familiar with studying, you will learn how best to prioritise your workload. It is inevitable that there will be times when you need to focus on one particular aspect of your studies, especially if you are also busy with work. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a chat with your tutor about the best way to prioritise at key points in your studies.
Finally, it may be a good idea to cut back on those after-work drinks, at least until after you get that assignment sent in!