Balancing part-time study with full-time work

There is an old fashioned proverb that goes – ‘If you want something done ask a busy person’. So, who better to ask about balancing part time study with full-time work than Thalia, who is our current Masters Compare scholarship winner.

"Hi there! I'm Thalia, and I'm excited to share my personal experiences of balancing my part-time Master's degree in Public Health at the University of Exeter with my full-time job at the NHS 111 Service.

Like many other students pursuing a postgraduate degree, I know first-hand the challenges of juggling work and education. On top of my studies and employment, I'm also pursuing a TESOL qualification, volunteering at a school, and applying for jobs abroad.

In this article, I'll be sharing some practical tips and insights on how I manage to prioritise and balance these commitments successfully and still have fun. So, let's dive into how to study while working full time!

How do you plan your workload?

Let's start with planning - it's essential! I use two apps that have been game-changers for me: TimeTree and TimeCamp.

TimeTree is perfect for planning out my week ahead, from scheduling my study time to arranging my shifts at work. With TimeCamp, I can monitor the time I spend on different tasks, which has helped me identify areas where I need to be more efficient.

And what’s more, instead of feeling overwhelmed by looming deadlines, I set my own deadlines for assignments, usually a week ahead of the actual due date. This allows plenty of time to work on my projects and still finish ahead of schedule.

There's nothing like the feeling of crossing a task off your to-do list earlier than expected!

How do you establish your routines?

Establishing routines is crucial. It's not just about scheduling work and study time - it's also important to factor in downtime and plan for the unexpected. I'm not a morning person, so I don't set unrealistic goals for the mornings. Instead, I focus on making small changes that are easier to incorporate into my daily routine.

I always set aside time for myself each day, whether it's reading a book or going for a walk. These little moments of self-care help me to stay motivated and focused on my goals. I find using the Pomodoro Timer app has been incredibly helpful - it uses the Pomodoro technique, which involves working in 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between. It's an excellent way to stay focused and avoid burnout.

How much support do you get from your employer?

In my experience, getting support from your employer can also make a huge difference when it comes to balancing part-time study with full-time work. Luckily, I work for the NHS 111 Service, and they've been incredibly supportive of my educational goals.

For example, I was able to negotiate with my employer to have every Thursday and Friday off, which has given me the time and space to focus on my studies.

Having this extra time to study while working has been invaluable, allowing me to dedicate the necessary hours to completing assignments and coursework without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. If you're considering pursuing part-time study while working full-time, I highly recommend speaking to your employer about what support they can offer.

Getting into a study mindset - how do you deal with distractions?

Finding the motivation to study after a long day at work can be tough, but I've found a few things that work for me.

Sometimes, I'll go for a walk or do a quick workout to clear my head, and other times I'll do something relaxing, such as reading or watching a show. Taking time for yourself helps recharge and focus your studies.

Using a dedicated study space

Having a dedicated study space is also crucial for me. I've set up a quiet and comfortable area in my home where I can focus without any distractions. Plus, having all my study materials close by helps me to stay organised and on task.

The Forest app has been really helpful - it's a fun way to avoid distractions while studying. The app grows a virtual tree as you study, but if you leave the app to check social media or use another app, the tree will wither and die. It's a little silly, but it works for me - a great motivator to stay focused and avoid distractions.

Looking after your relationships

When juggling part-time study with full-time work, it's essential to make time for your relationships.

Building connections with course mates, colleagues, and loved ones can provide a support system that helps keep you motivated and focused. Schedule time to catch up with friends, go out for dinner or drinks or attend social events to maintain a work-life balance.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also crucial when balancing multiple commitments.

How do you stay healthy?

Make sure you prioritise your physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and exercising regularly. It's also important to stay positive by setting achievable goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them.

From personal experience, I've learned that it's crucial to make time for fun and enjoyment. It's easy to get consumed by work and studies, but it's crucial to take breaks and do the things that you enjoy.

By incorporating these types of activities into your routine, you'll be able to recharge and help maintain a positive attitude.

Staying positive

I know it can be tough to stay on top of everything you need to do and despite all the tips I've shared, there are still times when I struggle with balancing part-time study with full-time work.

Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning in tasks, and I just need to take a breather or chat with my family and friends for some reassurance.

On other occasions, I look to my colleagues for advice on how they manage to juggle it all. We're all in this together, and there's always room to learn from each other's experiences.

Final thoughts

Balancing part-time study with full-time work can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. With the right mindset you can successfully manage both without sacrificing your mental and physical well-being.

Remember to prioritise your time, set realistic goals, and seek support from your network when needed. Whether you are a student working part-time or a full-time employee pursuing a degree, finding the balance between work and study is critical for achieving your goals and leading a fulfilling life.

By implementing the tips and tricks I shared in this article, you can take control of your busy schedule and thrive in both your professional and academic endeavours. I really hope you find them useful".

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