Top tips to balance work and study

work study

Gone are the days where only apprentices and university students have to balance a work and study life.

The soar in opportunities over the last few years has been extortionate, with chances for literally anyone to partake in education alongside their working life. Whether that be through an online course, a day in the week at college or an evening fast-track class – many people are now opting to secure an extra qualification.

Apprenticeships are still a common work/study route to take, and the rise in late starters compared to typically undertaking an apprenticeship once leaving school is notable. People aged 25 and over accounted for 44 per cent of apprenticeship starts in 2015/16 and 58,000 45 – 59 year olds began an apprenticeship during the same period.

Working whilst gaining a qualification is all well and good until the stress begins to kick in – and for the majority, it will. You’ve got work to get on with, but you can’t stop thinking about the assignment you’ve got to finish for the next day and a sense of panic begins to evolve. What you don’t realise is that stressing yourself to get the work done is only going to backfire as you begin to fall into this worrying cycle of stressing about being stressed.

To help avoid stress and balance work and study in the best way possible, there are a few tips you should bare in mind.

Allocate time

Allocating time for work and education in a structural way is effective –  as long as you stick to it.

For example, if you work 9am til 5pm and it takes you around an hour to get home, you can allocate 6pm til 7pm to revise/work on assignments and then allow yourself to relax for the rest of the evening. Or, instead of going from work straight into getting home and working on educational work, once you get home have a relax then have some dinner and study afterwards – but be aware that your mind may not be as active as it was earlier due to the risk of tiredness settling in.

Having some type of structure like a timetable means you are more likely to stick to the slots allocated for your study time.

Don’t brush off the work

How easy is it to leave that assignment to do at the weekend, or do the research for your project tomorrow instead of today?

No matter how tempting it is to leave work to do for another day, don’t do it! Once it gets to the day you left it to, it’s likely it’s only going to get the brush off again, and this will only repeat itself.

No excuses, do the work and you’ll feel so much better as a result.

Be honest with yourself

If the balance between work and study is feeling a struggle, take a breather and tell someone.

More than half of us blame unrealistic deadlines and heavy workloads as the causes for workplace stress – both of which can be resolved with some negotiation.

There’s nothing worse than having to cope with stress on your own, so talking to someone –  whether that be your tutor or employer, and explaining your situation will make you feel a lot better and the chances are, they’ll likely be able to do something to help.

If you’re honest with your situation and explain how you’re feeling, tutors for example, will possibly offer to be more lenient with deadlines or be able to offer additional resources to help assist with the struggles you’re finding in relation to your current study work. Be honest with yourself and don’t let the stress get too much!

Take a break 

When you’re ‘in the zone’ it’s easy to try and power through to complete as much work as possible until you realise it’s hours later, the sun has gone in and your laptop screen is the brightest light source in the room – but you need to take a break.

Take time out of your study allocation and use it to relax or do something to take your mind off whatever you were working on. Whether this be watching some light television like a reality show, or even getting yourself to the gym – it will help to give your mind a break.

Travel to work wisely 

For many of us, it takes over half an hour for us to commute to work but how many of us are guilty of using this time on our phones, scrolling through endless feeds on social media platforms? Instead, by using this time effectively, you can limit the work you will have to do later on in the day.

During your journey, get out your assignment brief/criteria or research and give it a read – reading during commuting is common and although this is usually a book or newspaper, why not exchange this for something you need to read and get it out of the way? Alternatively, why not brainstorm some ideas and put them in the notes tab on your phone? Or, make a to-do list of what you need to get done for the day? – Either way you are still being productive and helping balance your work and study life.