Advertising
Advertising

How to study with a full-time job

How to study with a full-time job

When you first start a job and the paychecks start rolling in, it can become very easy to stop thinking about career development. Living for the now is very acceptable in the short-run, especially after you get financially comfortable. However, at one point or another, career development thoughts will probably start sneaking into your mind. One of the best ways to advance your career is to complete industry specific certifications or go back to school to get a degree. Unfortunately for many, the idea of going back to school (or completing a certification) while working a full time job is daunting. Multiply the stress of a spouse, children, and all the other activities you’ve got going on, and studying for a certification seems like the furthest thing from an actual possibility. Although difficult, it is quite possible to balance your family, job, and obligations while studying for a degree or certification. The following are six tips to help you on your journey to get that degree or certification you’ve always wanted and give your career a kick start.

The following tips assume that in order to obtain your degree/certification, a majority (if not all) of the coursework must be completed independently and that the course ends with a major exam.

Advertising

Split up the reading
Split up you reading into weekly intervals. I recommend doing this as soon as you get your materials. Rip the shrink wrap off the book and calculate how many days you have and how many pages you must read in order to finish the book. I recommend creating a weekly reading schedule, writing it down, and posting it publicly. Post how much reading you must do each day on a calendar and when you finish the reading, cross it off. There’s nothing more irritating motivating than hearing your loved ones (or colleagues) ask you if you’ve done your reading for the day. Personally, I would rather read 18 pages a day for 40 days than read 103 pages for 7 days. I realize that this won’t be the same for everyone. By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out what works best for you. What’s most important with this step is that you devise a “reading plan” in the beginning and stick to it as you go along. Reading an entire text book in a week can be done. In fact, I spent most of college doing that. However, I’ve learned that in order to get a strong grasp of the material I need to study a little at a time. Breaking the reading down into small chunks will give you a sense of accomplishment everyday and will help you avoid the “my test is on Friday and I have to read 500 pages in 4 days” feeling.

Maximize your commute

Advertising

    Most adults in the US have a commute of over 20 minutes. I would venture to say that most commutes are closer to an hour each day. This is a prime opportunity to get some studying done. I’m not talking about reading while driving, either! Most textbooks come with an audio CD that never even gets taken out of the package. Most commutes (with the exception of bumper to bumper trips) are a quiet time perfect for getting in as much studying in as possible. Also, if any of your materials come in a digital format (PDF, Word Doc, etc.) you should convert these documents into audio files, and listen to them during your commute. Here is an excellent post that details how to turn just about any electronic document into an MP3.

    Sneak it in

    Advertising

      Try keeping some review materials on you at all times — even if it is something as simple as a note card with review concepts on it. There are tons of times throughout the day that you will have five to ten minute periods when you are free. These include waiting in a doctor’s office, walking to the car, waiting at line in the grocery store, waiting to pickup your kids, etc. You might as well leverage these times to study. The more time you can “sneak” studying in, the less time you’ll have to devote to studying later in the night when you could be spending time with your family or doing something more interesting.

      Multi-task
      To continue from the point above, there are many tasks that you complete each day that are appropriate for multi-tasking and getting some studying in: cooking dinner, working out, going to the bathroom, etc.. When I was paying attention, I was surprised by how many tasks throughout the day that were perfect for multi-tasking.

      Advertising

      Make one sacrifice per day
      In order to complete your course you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. I found it more beneficial to sacrifice tasks that only affected me, like watching my favorite TV shows, instead of sacrificing time with my family, friends, and girlfriend. Skipping an hour of TV per night made it possible for me to complete my reading and make it not feel like I was making major sacrifices in my life.

      Create a planned cram
      The day (or week) before your exam you’ll likely start to feel rising levels of stress. If you can swing it, take a vacation day the day before your exam. Even if you feel totally confident with the material, having the day off of work will keep your stress levels down, clear your head, and give you the opportunity to brush up on some of the material that you may have been brushing off. In the worst case scenario, planning your day well ahead of time will give you an opportunity to cram especially if you are in the “I need to read 500 pages in 4 days” scenario.

      Conclusion
      Some days will be easier than others. The coursework you’re studying will be difficult, but don’t let the difficult days be representative of the good days. If you’re still having a hard time finding the motivation to study, try getting up earlier. It will probably take a course or two for you to develop your own system. Hopefully these tips will be enough to start you on your way. Have you completed a certification or degree while working full-time and have a tip I didn’t mention? Please share what worked for you in the comments.

      More by this author

      The daily routine of 17 CEOs Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM Search social media content Four ways to automatically backup your hard drive 10 Unconventional Diet Tips: How to lose 50 pounds in three months

      Trending in Featured

      1 What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time 2 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 3 How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 5 How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on March 30, 2020

      What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

      What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

      If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

      So, what to do in free time?

      Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

      Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

      1. Reading Files

      Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

      Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

      2. Clear out Inbox

      Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

      If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

      Advertising

      3. Phone Calls

      Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

      Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

      4. Make Money

      This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

      If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

      5. File

      No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

      But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

      Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

      6. Network

      Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

      Advertising

      7. Clear out Feeds

      If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

      8. Goal Time

      Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

      If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

      Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

      9. Update Finances

      Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

      Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

      10. Brainstorm Ideas

      Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

      11. Clear off Desk

      Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

      Advertising

      Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

      12. Exercise

      Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

      13. Take a Walk

      This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

      It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

      14. Follow up

      Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

      When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

      15. Meditate

      You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

      Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

      Advertising

      16. Research

      This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

      If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

      17. Outline

      Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

      18. Get Prepped

      Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

      You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

      19. Be Early

      Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

      Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

      20. Log

      If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

      Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

      More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

      Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

      Read Next