Studies can be tough. Add in a job you have calls on your time that can derail the most organised individual. However, there are ways to achieve a balance.
With the right approach, you can divide your time between the two without feeling like they’re pulling you apart. Sometimes, with the right attitude, they can even be symbiotic.
Let’s start by asking a pretty basic question…
How necessary is that job?
Financial circumstances can often dictate that extra money’s needed, especially during education.
No wonder 66% of students are reckoned to be working a job concurrently with attending to their studies. However, some will not necessarily be in a situation where the income from that job is imperative to their continued presence at university. For some, it might be a case of wanting to finance a particular lifestyle. It might further be the case that they’d be better advised to re-shape that lifestyle a little to trim their expenses.
Instead of quite so many big nights out, consider going to subsidised facilities like gyms and swimming pools. Or simply a nice walk around the city. See a gallery or a museum. If you’re lucky enough to be in a town or city notable for its historical or cultural nature, you should really take advantage. You’ll look back and regret it if you don’t. This may then have the dual benefit of allowing more time for your studies, and perhaps also you’ll be in a healthier place when you try to tackle those studies.
However, there’s nothing worse than being lectured about such things, so by all means, you should feel free to live a little while studying a lot. If this is the case, then let’s look at ways you can work a job into this mix.
When you’re signing your new job contract (either in person or with something similar to DocuSign), it’s tempting to over-sell your availability.
Sure, I can do weekends. Every weekend, no problem. You want me to work weekdays too? Absolutely. I’m up for anything. Sound familiar? It happens all too often. People tend to do whatever the boss wants when they start for fear of seeming uncommitted to the task otherwise.
But here’s the thing. Most bosses understand that you’re not going to be free to work every shift. When an employer takes on a student, they completely get that there are going to be studies that must be completed at some point. If you’re working for somebody who doesn’t comprehend that, then you may need to get a job somewhere else.
Most helpful of all, to both the employer and the employee, is being clear and up-front with what you can reliably do right from the outset. That way, you’ll be able to come through with what you’ve offered, and your manager won’t be left hanging, like a phone call waiting, wondering what your availability will be like from week to week.
Think about when you’re likely to be at your most available for work and, crucially, when you’re not going to have such a lot of time to spare. Thankfully, a good deal of what will tie up your time is set in stone, so you can see those deadlines coming from miles away.
Think about exams, for instance. You know what date they start. And you know what preparation you’re going to have to do. So ringfence that time and consider it a study-only section.
Some jobs teach you ways of working that can actively help you with your studies. A good example is the sort of employment where you have several pressing tasks to complete, and you have to learn to prioritise. Sometimes this can involve the use of task management software.
Whether the prioritising is done entirely manually or with computer assistance, you can take certain principles to do with urgency and foresight on board that will equip you very well in your studies. This is where synergy kicks in, regardless of whether your job is in an ostensibly related subject area.
Let’s say you’re studying psychology. But your job is in a busy cafe. Learning how to communicate well, deal with hurried instruction and juggle orders accurately are all skills that are supremely useful for a student to learn, not just to contribute to their studies but to their life chances in the employment market after graduation.
Or you could be studying teaching but have a job in telephone reception. You might think that having to transfer a call repeatedly throughout the day wouldn’t be much use to your studies.
Learn to relax. Take time to let your body recover. If there’s nothing on the to-do list that day, allow yourself some space to do the thing that gives you peace. In other words, don’t feel like you have to be this dynamo all the time. That way lies burnout.
Work and study can mix - you can plan your life so that you can cover both, no problem. But you do need to stay conscious of where there might be pinch points that can overwhelm you. And you need to make sure that you’ve told everybody who needs to know where those points are. And, finally, you need to be kind to yourself.
Tanhaz Kamaly - Partnership Executive, UK, Dialpad UK
Tanhaz Kamaly is a Partnership Executive at Dialpad, modern cloud phone systems and business communications platform that turns conversations into the best opportunities, both for businesses and clients. He is well-versed and passionate about helping companies work in constantly evolving contexts, anywhere, anytime. Tanhaz has also written for other domains such as ZenTao and Cybersecurity Insiders.
Check out his LinkedIn profile.