How to juggle life and uni like a pro
Okay. Deep breath. You’ve decided to take on a new challenge – one that could send you in exciting and unexpected directions. You’ve found the course you love. You’re keen to jump in. But there’s some apprehension. How will you manage work, life AND study? How will you juggle it all? Rest assured, there is a way. Check out these tips from those who’ve been there before.
1. Plan ahead
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It sounds obvious, but this one is key to staying on top of everything and not letting yourself get overwhelmed. Write lists if that’s what works for you. Use a planner. Or a spreadsheet. Or a good old-fashioned chalkboard. Whatever system you prefer, use it to help you manage life, work and study. Set up some good habits to make the most of your time, like sticking to one weekly grocery shop (instead of five because you keep running out of chocolate). Take a step back to look at what’s coming up – assignments? exams? holidays and family functions? – then anticipate how you can tweak your schedule to accommodate.
2. Choose a job or a course that’s flexible
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Something’s got to give. You’re not going to be able to nail full-time work and full-time study without going slightly insane, so choose part-time for one or the other. If you go for flexibility with your work, make sure you’re clear and upfront with your boss about what shifts you can take on and when. Let them know your uni timetable and tell them in advance if you’ll need time off for exams. They’ll appreciate your transparency and be more inclined to work with your schedule.
On the flipside, if your work is nine to five, Monday to Friday, then consider a course that’s offered online or has evening or weekend classes. (Speak to us if you’d like to know more.) Many courses are designed with this flexibility in mind, and the digital tools available as part of them mean that staff and student support are highly accessible.
3. Gather all your tools straight up
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On top of any books or requisite course material, think about what other tools are going to help you get through. Maybe it’s time to invest in a new laptop? Or head to Officeworks for some stationery? Or load up your devices with some snazzy programs and apps? A project management tool like Trello or an organisational one like Evernote may end up being your saving grace. Start your course with all these at your fingertips and life is likely to run more smoothly throughout.
4. Delegate, outsource and share the load
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Ah, life admin. How painful and persistent you are! But here’s the thing – some life admin tasks can be outsourced or at least shared with compassionate friends or family. If you have the budget for it, consider hiring a fortnightly cleaner for the house. You’d be surprised how much time it can free up for study! If you live with friends or with a partner, ask if they’re willing to take on some additional duties while you’re studying – a meal schedule can be a great way to divide responsibilities. Just remember to say a big thanks! If you have young children, think about organising a regular play date with a sympathetic friend or enrol the kids in a class they can attend without you. Make that time your dedicated study time and guard it carefully.
5. Bring reading material wherever you go
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To get through all that course content, you’ll need to find some serious time to read. What about your commute to work? Lunch breaks? Waiting for an appointment? Or a friend who’s always running late? Have your printouts handy, ditch social media and actually utilise these snippets of time. Just fifteen minutes reading course material on the train both morning and night can really add up, leaving you with more time for other things.
6. Make study a priority
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You wouldn’t be spending money on study if it wasn’t important to you. Don’t let it get obscured by all the other obligations life throws your way. Distant deadlines can catch you out, so make sure you schedule time to study even when an assignment isn’t due tomorrow! Above all, remember why you signed up for this in the first place. Focus on your dream career or ultimate goal and you’ll find the motivation to put yourself and your studies high on the list of priorities.