Education is an excellent way to improve your skills and knowledge, making you more valuable to your employer and increasing your likelihood of raises, promotions and prestige in your field. Yet, education also takes time and energy, which are incredibly valuable resources.
Some professionals opt to leave work while they pursue higher education, but many strive to strike a balance amongst work, school and life to continue their professional advancement as they gain new knowledge and skills. If you are opting for the latter path, here are a few tips to make your work-school-life balance a bit easier to manage.
Select Your Goals
In business, it is impossible to identify whether or not a process has been successful if it is not guided by specific and relevant goals. The same is true for your education. You should be participating in education for a reason: to gain credentials required to move up your career ladder, to gain skills to switch into a new career field, to connect with like-minded professionals in your industry, etc. By understanding and expressing your goals in returning to school, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to reach success, which will keep you motivated to complete your courses. Plus, your goals help you prioritize your education amidst your other responsibilities, so you know it is most important to devote your time and energy.
Inform Your Employer
You will likely inform the significant members of your personal life about your choice to enroll in courses, but you should also take the time to tell your boss. When your employer is aware of the additional responsibilities on your plate, they will be more forgiving of temporary lapses in your performance. What’s more, your employer might volunteer to compensate you for some of your education-related expenses, like tuition or books, if they expect to benefit from your improved knowledge and skill as your education progresses. In the unlikely circumstance that your manager is not supportive of your decision to participate in continued education, you can feel confident that your bolstered credentials will help you find a better position once your courses are complete.
Find Impactful Courses
Fitting education into an already packed work-life balance is difficult, so you want to be certain that the time and energy you devote to your courses will pay off. You should look for online short courses from prestigious schools in your intended career field. Ideally, courses should provide specific insight into complicated subjects, which you might not be able to gain easily from your current position. You might consult with a mentor or coach for guidance in selecting the most impactful courses for your career, or you can speak with a college counselor familiar with your field and affiliated with a respectable institution.
Set a Weekly Schedule
Many students craft study plans that help them prepare adequately for the demands of their courses. Because you need to find a balance among the hours you devote to work, the hours available for study and the hours you spend with loved ones, you might need to create a broader schedule to manage your time every week. Revising your weekly schedule gives you the flexibility to add time for social events or space for a big work project or an important exam. You can make your schedule accessible to your loved ones and your coworkers, so they understand when you will be available and when you will be focused on other responsibilities.
Balancing work, school and life is not easy; no matter how passionate you are about the coursework or how invested you are in your career, fitting all these responsibilities into your schedule will create some stress. Fortunately, it is possible to manage this stress and maintain strong connections to important people in your life with open communication. In addition to your family members and work colleagues, you should try to gain valuable communications skills for working with your professors and fellow students. Solid communication provides a foundation of social and professional support that you can use to reach success.
You are not the first person to try to balance a full-time job, continued courses and a personal life at home, which means you can learn from the successes and failures of those who have attempted this feat before you. By using these tips for establishing a work-school-life balance, you can achieve your goals and improve your standing with minimal strain.