If you’ve decided to go back to school to boost your skills, it can create some time management problems in the meantime. Keep the following tips in mind to stay on track.
1. Track your use of time.
“Where does the time go?” is a common refrain for many of us. Between work, school, friends, and family tasks, it might seem like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. But do you know where your time really goes? To get started with better managing your time, try keeping a record of what you do throughout the day. This will help you pinpoint your usual distractions or times of day when your energy flags, so that you can create a new, realistic work/study schedule. Keeping a written diary and daily to-do lists can help keep you on task.
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2. Create a separate study space.
If you’ve decided to advance your career by taking an online course, one of the benefits is that you can complete the coursework virtually anywhere. It helps to create a space that’s just for studying, however. If you study in the same area where you run your business, you can all too easily get distracted by work-related issues. You can certainly work and study from the same office, but find a way to make the transition from work to study mode. Whether it’s sitting in a different chair in your usual office or from your laptop in a café, find what works for you.
3. Organize by priority, not deadlines.
If you’re a master procrastinator, deadlines might actually be working against you. It’s natural to organize your work load by deadlines, knocking out tasks that are due first. However, this can have a negative effect on your work/study balance if you’re constantly switching gears and only completing tasks as they’re due. Try organizing your tasks in order of importance, rather than simply deadline. If an upcoming essay comprises a major percentage of your grade, start working on it before you tackle a less important work task.
4. Schedule a time-out.
Balancing a job or home business and additional coursework can be stressful. Don’t forget to give yourself room to breathe as you create a schedule. Whether it’s time to hit the gym or to have a lunch break with a friend, these time-outs can recharge your batteries and leave you with a clear head for your studies.
5. Try to work regular hours.
This may not be possible for everyone, but if you can work regular shifts it will better allow you to take control of your studies. Knowing when work is scheduled in advance can help you pencil in time for study groups, lectures, and other academic commitments.
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6. Just say no.
Do you agree to take on work you don’t really have time for? Give yourself a break! Learning something new takes time and commitment already, so if you need to miss a less important meeting or skip out on carpool duty once in a while, your colleagues will understand. Don’t spend precious time solving other people’s problems, if it means sacrificing your own goals. Exercise your right to say no every now and then if it’s compromising your time management.
Finally, don’t panic if you’re finding it hard to juggle everything on your plate. Talk to your professors and employers when you have problems with deadlines, or consider taking a short online course rather than a full degree program. Above all, always keep your long-term goals in mind to stay motivated!