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Achieving Balance: How to Work While in School and Maintain Your Sanity
A high number of college students work at the same time they are enrolled in classes. Three-quarters of students are in the labor force at some point during their schooling. In 2018, around 40 percent of undergraduates worked at least 30 hours a week. For older students, the numbers are usually higher.
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Balance starts with a time management plan. Time is easy to squander without a realistic view of the demands on it. Begin with a basic daily planner. Fill in the hours required for classes. Be sure to include the time outside of class for homework, studying, and other projects. With those time slots filled in, you have a better look at the hours available for work.
Poor planning leads to panic, which means more stress. Once you make a schedule, the next part is to stick with it. Prioritize the time allotted for each activity. Make adjustments as needed. The key to making the schedule work is to finish tasks within the time allotted.
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A packed schedule is manageable with good planning. Multitasking is often touted as a great way to maximize limited time. However, trying to do too much at once means the tasks at hand are given half of the attention they would receive if done one at a time.
It might be tempting, for example, to use downtime at work to complete homework tasks. The problem is that neither work nor the assignment will receive your full attention. A better approach would be to allow time for each task to be completed one at a time.
Support Your Health
Stress is a natural byproduct of a packed schedule. College life is already a busy period in your life. The pressure of holding down a job adds to the stress. When you add more to your plate, you have to consider the toll on your health. Allowing for time to workout helps you maintain your health and reduce your stress.
Resist the temptation to exist on fast food and too little rest. Plan ahead at home to prepare nutritious meals and snacks that you can eat on the go. Prioritize sleep on your schedule. Be sure to include time for physical activity and relaxation.
Make Time for Play
Connect with friends and family members. Watch a movie you have wanted to see. Settle down with a good book. Downtime is one of the best ways to fend off becoming overwhelmed. Your schedule may not allow for hours at the end of each day. Both work and school will benefit from taking a break. Your mental health will benefit, too.
At the end of a very busy day, it is important to remember the long term goal of the path you have chosen. The time you spend exhausted and overwhelmed will come to an end. You will have the satisfaction of knowing how hard you have worked to complete your goals.
As dismal as the added stress and pressure may sound, there are real benefits to holding down a job while in school. For one, you may graduate with less debt. The extra income may keep extra loans to a minimum. Time management skills will become second nature. Even if your job has nothing to do with your chosen field after graduation, the additional work experience will look good on your resume.
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