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6 Tips for School-Family-Work Balance (and Survival!)

Photo credit: lisaclarke/flickr.com

If you’re like most students, you have basic life expenses. Rent, food and phone bills can all add up pretty quickly, and whether or not you’ve decided to take on a small school loan, you’re probably also trying to juggle in a part-time job with everything else that you have going on in your life.

Here are a few tricks that will help you find a way to fit school into your hectic schedule without undermining your other responsibilities.

1)      Pay close attention to dates and deadlines. In terms of mid-terms, and final exams and presentation, you generally need to focus less on everything else so you can dedicate most of your energy to studying. If you explain your schedule to your family, friends and your employer well in advance, you will have an easier time taking care of what you need to without feeling like you’re skimping on your non-academic duties and relationships.

2)      Take advantage of ‘wasted’ time for study. Got a long commute to work or school? Have a fifteen minute coffee break every few hours? That’s a good time to listen to recorded lectures, read class notes, or review flash cards. These little spurts of free time are not huge commitments, but they do have a huge effect on helping you catch up. For example, someone taking accounting courses in Toronto can memorize payroll vocabulary with one flash card as every stop on the streetcar or subway.

3)      Combine your work with your education. IF possible, try to find work in the field you hope to work in after graduation. For an easy example, if you’re taking psw courses, finding part-time work in a residential care facility will give you money for living expenses while helping you learn your material faster.

4)      Streamline everything. Look for time savers for everyday responsibilities. For instance, as a busy student and an employee you might not have much time for a home cooked meal. Crock pot cooking is an example of something you can do in the morning and then come home late in the evening to something done to perfection and not have to think about it all day. The less time you have, the more helpful it is to be better organized. Think of it as homework for your business administration diploma!

5)      Involve your family in your success. For parents, going back to school can be a tough juggle. A great way to avoid prioritizing school over your family (or vice versa) is to integrate your family into your school schedule. If you have older children, it’s a great time to ease them into learning some more adult life skills. Have your teenager take over dinner one night a week, or a spouse temporarily take over certain errands that you would usually run (dry cleaning, groceries, daycare pick-up etc.). Sit down with your family and discuss your limited time with them and have them practice pulling together as a team.

6)      Always budget some of you time.  It might be hanging out with a friend, playing some video games on the couch or squeezing in a quick jog somewhere in the day, make sure you reserve some time just for yourself.  Every person has their own way of recharging their batteries, and regardless of how constricted your time is, taking time for you is the final capstone to avoiding a total burnout.

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