Siân Duffin, Student Support Manager at Arden University shares expert tips for how you can best balance working while studying.
With the country in the position it is in, many of us are working and studying at home, balancing that with other responsibilities, like caring for children or parents or other vulnerable people.
Achieving work life balance is often tricky, but even more so at the moment. Rest and sleep are often things that slide when people are very busy – they stay up later and get up earlier and the boundaries between the two become blurred. Lack of sleep is a key factor contributing to poor mental and physical health therefore taking some time to think about how you manage work and life challenges is an important thing to do.
Communication with friends and family
Communication with those around you is key to achieving a balance. Discuss what you need with those around you and listen to their needs in turn. Many families are making home schooling timetables currently, ask the kids to get involved with scheduling you as well. It can then be useful to remind them, for example, that this is Mummy or Daddy’s study time and what they said they would do whilst you are studying. Don’t be afraid to study little and often rather than in one big chunk. Writing 100-200 words a day might be more achievable than writing for an hour a day now, or aim to read 10 pages, rather than for a fixed amount of time. Quality over quantity is always better.
Utilise your support network
Reach out to your support network – at university or at work and talk to them about your circumstances and your needs. There is often a degree of flexibility that can be offered from both sides to allow you to achieve your goals. Share your thoughts on your plans to manage work and study and see what they advise. Talk to your social support and explain why this is so important to you.
Modelling positive work life balance for those around you will help others to practice the same thing. Don’t be afraid of the word no. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in feeling like you have to say yes. Or if no is too difficult, yes, I can do that, but I will have stop doing this can be a way to ask the person with the question consider whether their request is crucial. Using an urgent/important matrix to plot your tasks can also help, especially if you find some tasks constantly get neglected. If something is urgent and important, make that the one big thing you do that day and pick off some of the less important and urgent ones in small gaps.
Be honest with yourself
Above all else, be honest about where you are with yourself. If you feel tired and stressed, then that is usually an indicator that something needs to change. Listen to yourself, you know yourself the best. Is there one particular thing you could do that would change things? Be prepared to be honest with yourself about the answer. It can be really illuminating to ask yourself that, if you can.
Arden University – www.arden.ac.uk – is a modern university that offers a more flexible way to study which enables students to ‘learn whilst they earn’, through either distance or blended learning options. Blended learning combines face to face, tutor-led teaching at one of Arden’s five Study Centres in London, Manchester and Birmingham with self-study time. Arden believes that the purpose of Higher Education is to enable everyone to further career prospects and equip them with the right skills for the workplace. This is why course content is specifically focused on furthering career progression and improving workplace potential. It’s also why Arden invites companies to sit on the university’s validation boards to continually review and iterate course content. Arden’s entry requirements and costs involved help to make it a more accessible choice especially for candidates who haven’t been in education for a while or who are now returning to education having chosen a different path after leaving school.
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