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7 Tips To Balance Work And Study

7 Tips To Balance Work And Study
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Having trouble managing your work and school studies? It isn’t an easy thing to do. Here are seven ways to help you maximize your time so you can successfully balance work and study:

Use class syllabi as study tool.

There are helpful little documents your professors, teachers or instructors have created for you to help you out during the school semester – your class syllabi! Take a good chunk of time to thoroughly review the syllabus for each of your classes so you know what to expect over the next several weeks, from course topics, project and exam due dates, to other useful information.

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Enter both work and school deadlines into your calendar.

When is that big project review due at work? How about that mid-term exam for school? It’s far easier to gauge your time and availability when you have your full schedule in front of you. Plot both work and school deadlines into a single calendar to keep track of due dates and important deadlines so you aren’t caught off guard.

Begin working on a school assignment as soon as it’s assigned.

Do you wait until the last minute to begin a school project and end up pulling all-nighters that leave you tired and drained at work? Instead of setting yourself up for a stressful situation, simply start working on a school assignment as soon as possible. Get the momentum going by taking small steps such as thoroughly reading and understanding the assignment, jotting down a few ideas for a paper topic, or conducting some basic research online.

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Find new ways to study.

Make the most of the study time you have available to you by finding new ways to absorb, memorize and understand information. Try writing down concepts and facts, read your notes aloud, use flashcards, rewrite or retype your notes, or study with a classmate. You won’t know which study methods work best for you until you try them out, so feel free to experiment!

Define studying tasks.

When you’re at work you most likely tackle unique tasks such as answering the phone, doing a close-concentration task, writing emails, or having a meeting with colleagues. Your studies should be approached in a similar fashion with clearly defined tasks. Create a list of different study tasks to help you with your study time, such as reviewing a chapter summary, reading passages in-depth, working on a problem set or editing a report.

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Plan study sessions for the week.

Do you study with a plan in mind? Or do you just crack open a textbook and hope for the best? Block out time in your calendar in advance to tackle different study tasks (see above) to make the most out of your schedule, be it a half-hour, a two-hour chunk of time, or whatever you have available to you that week.

Add small study sessions to your commute.

Do you have solid, uninterrupted portions of time during your daily commute, such as a long train, bus or ferry ride? Try incorporating small study sessions during these times. You could memorize facts and figures, work on a few problems from a problem set, watch a required video for class, or review your notes.

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Where do you do your best studying? At home? Your local coffee shop? The library? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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