I adore back-to-school season. It’s hands down, my favourite time of year. By the time September rolls around, I’m more than happy to abandon my summer vibes and get back to warm drinks and crazy study hours. What I’m less excited about is finding ways to balance school and work during the academic year.
For me, and a lot of other students out there (I know you’re out there), there’s no way I’d be able to afford school without working part-time during the year. The ability to earn even a few extra dollars that I can spend on coffee when I’m cramming for an exam is so important to me.
If you’re debating whether or not you can balance a part-time job with university, debate no more! As long as you have the smallest shred of time management skills and some motivation, you can do anything. But here are a few tips to help you out along the way!
ONE – Don’t trust your memory
This is where everything can either fall apart, or come together. Us bloggers love a good planner and there’s a reason for that! Writing down important dates, assignments, or to-do lists are a fantastic way to make sure they won’t be forgotten. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a mental note instead of writing it down and then immediately forgotten.
I usually take about half an hour once a week to go over my plans for the next few days. During this time, I plan everything out by the hour. With my job and classes, I find this is the easiest way to make sure I know where I’ll be able to sneak in a quick study period or coffee with friends.
TWO – Plan around the idea of a job
Honestly, this advice really depends on the situation. This year, it’s impossible for me to plan my schedule around a job. There’s only one class time for most of my courses so I’m stuck with what they give me. If your schedule has a little bit more flexibility, try to plan your days around working. An easy way to do this if you don’t already know the hours you’re going to work is to block off times for classes. This can either mean aiming for classes only on Tuesday and Thursday, or it can mean only having classes in the afternoon.
THREE – Recognize (and listen to) your limits
No one is going to tell you maintaining a high GPA is easy. Getting good grades involves a lot of hard work, a lot of which doesn’t actually happen in the classroom. On top of being in class, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the library, and at your job(s). Any free time you have should be treated as something precious. Try to fill it with something that makes you feel good.
For some people, this may mean saying no to taking on extra responsibilities in clubs or saying no to a party with friends and that’s okay. If your body is telling you that you need some time to relax, listen to it! This might mean you decide to go for a walk in the park and then have a bubble bath, or it might mean you sit and spend some time reading a book that isn’t for classes. Remember in the midst of all the stress that self-care is still an important part of daily living.
FOUR – Make time for friends and family
As humans, we’re social animals. Ever remember playing Sims and having your little guy get grumpy because they hadn’t interacted with anyone in awhile? Well, the same will happen to you if you spend all your time alone going from work to class to the library and back again. Find some time to catch up with the important people in your life. Even taking that hour between classes to chat with a friend can help to improve a mood.
FIVE – Stay one step ahead
Don’t let yourself fall behind in classes. If you can help it, try to finish assignments before you reach the kind of stress levels only procrastination can foster. While it’s okay to procrastinate every once in awhile, if you can finish your assignments ahead of time not only will you not need to stress as the due date approaches, but you might even have time to give them a quick edit before you have to hand them in.
While I never thought I’d be that person, who advocates for getting things done ahead of time (former leader of the procrastinators right here), this past year I’ve discovered the amazing feeling of getting things done in advance. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but once you get it, it’ll be a feeling you chase.
SIX – Schedule a workout
I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t advice about school or a job, but really, it is. When you’re busy with work, school, and a social life it’s easy to put working out on the back burner. I know it’s something I always forget to do, but when I make it part of my daily routine, my mood improves drastically. Even after a quick half hour workout, I find myself able to focus more and I just generally feel better. I like to be sneaky and use workouts as time to catch up on my favourite TV shows too, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone.