How to Balance on the Tightrope of Work & School

March 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Career Planning

Holding down a job while attending school full-time is a balancing act that requires a great deal of effort and strategy. You’re not alone, however. Seventy-two percent of the 19.7 million students over the age of 16 enrolled in undergraduate college worked in 2011—twenty percent of those students worked full time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If millions of others can walk the precarious tightrope of work and school, you can too.


Depositphotos_2080117_xsWith today’s technologies and limitless apps, there’s no excuse not be organized. Apps like Evernote allow you to record and save all of your notes, files and images with the added bonus of accessing this information on any device. Type in any important exams, work meetings and all deadlines in your calendar. This information should only be the bare bones of your organizational effort. Next, you’ll want to comb through all 24 hours of each day. Outline homework and studying time, dinner, allot yourself some free time and allow your body to receive seven or so hours of sleep. Plan your day with the disciplinary creed of a rigorous drill instructor.


Managing your time at work and school will require sacrifice and prioritizing your daily activities in order of importance. Communicate with your managers about your class—you may need to reduce your weekly hours in order to make sufficient time for studying and achieve high marks in class. Social sacrifice may also be necessary as well as time watching movies and other entertainment. However, don’t push relaxation and recreation to the bottom of your priorities every day—they’re important to your sanity.

Using Time Effectively

To achieve great grades at school while excelling at work, you’ll need to take advantage of every second. In other words, waste no time twiddling your thumbs. If your work grants you adequate time for lunch, use that time not only for eating, but for studying and completing homework. Your work lunch break can become a valuable period for accomplishing additional schoolwork and allow you to allot more time for relaxation in the evenings (if you have an eight- or nine-to-five job). Think about any other free time during the day? Do you commute to work by train or bus? What about waiting for laundry at the laundromat? Pack this inert time with studying. And remember, you’re not alone. Ask for help when you need it. As the soon-to-be CEO of Ernst & Young, Mark Weinberger, says, “The team is always stronger than the individual.” Leverage your classmates and coworkers to mitigate your stress and help each other out.

Sleep & Nutrition

Receiving adequate sleep each night is crucial to your success in school and work. Do not sacrifice hours of sleep for more time spent on work or school. Pulling all-nighters will cause detrimental effects to your mind the next day. You’ll be more sluggish and less efficient at any task. Don’t think that you can use caffeine as a substitute for sleep. No one is a perpetual motion machine. Recharge your batteries every night to make the most of tomorrow. Also, maintaining a proper diet will ensure maximal energy everyday. Begin each morning with a hearty breakfast.


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