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Balancing School, Work and Life

It might seem nearly impossible to go back to school for a college degree when you’ve already got a full-time job and a busy personal life at home to worry about. People do it all the time, however, and more and more adults are heading back to the classroom to brush up on their skills or pursue a degree to help with career advancement. The two keys to balancing your personal life with your job and your education are organization and flexibility.

When your day is busy from morning till night, it’s important to stay organized. It’s important to know what your schedule looks like for both the entire day and week so that you can make the most of your time. If you have your daughter’s soccer game from 6-8 one night, you’ll need to plan ahead time to make dinner, time for travel, plus time to get studying done. When you’ve got lots of commitments, you need to know ahead of time when you’ll be able to get everything done so that you can budget your extra time accordingly.

Creativity in organization can help. Some working students use their lunch breaks to get their school work finished. If that’s not an option, or if you need more time, maybe you can wake up early enough to leave a free hour before work or sneak in your studies after the kids have gone to bed.

Flexibility is also very important. Things happen. You might be asked to stay late at work, or you or someone in your family might get sick. Having a planned schedule is great, and it will help you stay on task, but it may never be possible to stick to it 100 percent. Being flexible with your time and budgeting some extra “just in case” time will help when emergencies creep up and threaten to distract you from your college degree work.

With all this organization and flexibility, it’s inevitable that guilt might creep up. Maybe it’s guilt over missing  the school play, or guilt over not making happy hour with your co-workers. It isn’t likely that you’ll be able to keep up with everything that everyone in your life is involved in, so one way to keep the guilt at bay is to do your best to keep your school life separate from your home life. If your kids are frustrated that you’re ignoring them, make the most of the time you do have to spend with them. Instead of zoning out in front of the TV, play a game together, and then work on your schoolwork after they’ve gone to bed. Your family and friends will understand that your degree program is important, and if you balance your time appropriately, there won’t be hard feelings.

One of the best options for busy working students is the online degree. Enrolling in an online degree program means that you design your own schedule. You’ll be able to meet your course requirements whenever it’s convenient, even if that means working on an assignment at 2 a.m. in your pajamas.

No matter what kind of college program you’re pursuing, it’s important to always keep your goals in mind. Remembering what it is you’re working toward – a new career, a promotion, a raise – will help you maintain focus when things get stressful.