Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Millie of Planet Millie as part of the All Stars Challenge. It is difficult enough to study full time so I hope this helps those of you who are juggling work and study!
Originally, when I was discussing the topic of this post with Caribbean Princess, I arranged to do a blog post on my studying routine. However, when I sat down to write the post I thought 'who am I kidding, I don't study to a routine'. I don't think I'm a super-organised person, and I'm certainly not an efficient organiser of time. I love nothing better than a good procrastination session, and I was definitely one of the kids at school that spent eight hours colouring in a beautiful revision timetable and never actually following it. Having said all of that, I currently have a full-time job and am studying part-time for an MSc, so I have learned some tips for getting everything done.
The most important thing to do when studying around a full-time job is to write everything down. Personally, I think this is more important than effective time management. If you don't write down everything that you need to do, it's very easy for tasks to get forgotten. You'll then either remember them at the last minute and have to rush them, or forget them completely, with consequent repercussions for your job or study.
I am a big fan of post-it note to-do lists, but find a system that works for you. In my Filofax I write down important dates and count back from them, so that in the weeks running up to deadlines I know what's happening. I like using post-it notes for large tasks (tasks that may take more than one session to complete) because I can move the list to the following week if it's not completed. I write small tasks, or little things I need to check, on my Filofax pages for the relevant week, so that I can tick them off as soon as they're done. If I'm naughty and I don't do my tasks, then I have to write them in to the following week.
Next I organise my time, and how I'm going to use it. I do write down all my work meetings, even though we use Outlook Calendar at work and I know when I'm at work. It helps me to plan for busy days, as on busy days I'm unlikely to want to study in the evening. I also write down any other things that are happening, for example if I'm planning to go to the allotment, or if I need to go to the supermarket. Then I start writing down the time I've got free for studying. I'm quite informal with this, because as mentioned I like to procrastinate, so sometimes I don't do what I'd planned to do! I do write down on specific days if I'm keeping some time free to study. This is usually at the weekend, when I'm not working. If I know what I want to study that day (for example if I have an assignment, or I want to finish two chapters of a textbook), I write this down as well.
I have a section in my Filofax where I keep information on projects, and in here I write a list of all my module topics and deadlines for that course. I can then use it as a checklist to keep an eye on how I'm progressing, and I can see quickly if I'm behind or have a deadline coming up that I need to prepare for. I also write down grades on this list, so I can see how I’m doing.
As a final thought, it's worth thinking about the time that gets wasted each week. For example, I often use my lunch breaks at work to study, because it means I keep an hour free in the evening for something else. It helps me keep on top of everything I need to do, but the most important thing is to have fun! Studying around a job is ultimately an optional project (even if you're doing it to improve your career), so you shouldn't make yourself suffer unnecessarily. You only live once!
I would like to thank Millie for her excellent guest post. For those of you who need to fit in studying around hectic work schedules, please share any other useful tips in the comments.
As always, I hope you enjoy your day!