By Sara Halickman
Balancing work and school is a skill I’ve been honing since high school. I took on my first part-time retail job at the beginning of 11th grade, determined to save for a trip I wanted to go on. Now seven years later, I’m working at an accounting firm while taking CPA courses (and maybe still saving for some trips I’d like to go on). I think I’ve come a long way considering I’m no longer folding t-shirts and am rather auditing companies; however, the same balancing act is still required. Along the way I’ve found a few things that have worked, and some that haven’t.
1. Evenings are not my most productive study time: nothing is worse than getting home from work at 6, eating dinner, and then having to think even harder than you did all day at the office. I’ve come to terms with the fact that most nights it’s quite likely that no productive learning is going to take place, and that’s to be expected.
2. Working out helps me keep my sanity: giving myself the time to go to the gym or take a walk helps clear my head and is a huge stress-reliever.
3. To do lists are crucial: albeit slightly old-school, I live by my Filofax and sticky note to-do lists. They keep me on track and help me plan ahead. There’s also nothing more satisfying than crossing out a list of tasks once they’re done.
4. Setting out rules helps: I make sure not to force myself to study late at night when I have work the next day, and I make an effort to not stay at work late on nights I have class or do need to go home and get some school work in.
5. The Internet is a really easy way to get distracted: when I finally do sit down to study, I’ve often found myself perusing Facebook, Twitter, Foodgawker, or news websites that I haven’t had a chance to take a look at all day. As a result, I’ve taken to turning off the wifi on my computer when I study and keeping my phone in another room. Less distraction helps me get through that to-do list faster, and I don’t feel bad about wasting as much time.
6. Enjoy the work day: while I’m at work I don’t think about or do anything school-related. I find it’s important to keep the two separate so when I work on one I’m not distracted by the other.