How to balance full-time work and online study

Wondering how it's possible to juggle full-time work and online study? Here, Business and Marketing student, Joy Suzanne, shares an insight into how she manages her time and gives her 4 top tips for you to do the same:

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Balancing your studies, your personal life and your career is no easy task, but armed with the right attitude and the right tools, you’ll be able to keep all those plates spinning!

1. Make the most of the flexibility

The main point to keep in mind here is that online study is meant to be flexible; you can log in from anywhere and access your course materials. I put so much pressure on myself to always get 2 modules done per study period but this isn’t always possible and sometimes I even struggle to get 1 module done.

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Only you know your schedule so make allowances when you need to. If you have a busy few months coming up at work then don’t release a module - or if you have a lot of time on your hands, make the most of it and release more modules.

2. Watch the clock

There are a few helpful things I like to do to keep on top of my modules: the first is quite an obvious one, but make sure you keep a note of your assignment deadline.

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An easy way to do this is by putting a reminder in your phone/email calendar - having a visual representation of your timeline really helps to give you some perspective and motivation. If you don’t have a digital calendar with a month-by-month viewer, I would suggest printing a physical calendar to write down milestones you’d like to keep to.

Utilise every opportunity and do a little bit every day. I take my laptop or tablet to work with me and I work through my study materials on my lunch break or on the journey home.

I feel so much better in myself when I’ve done something valuable for my course. You can plan ahead and say to yourself, "tomorrow I’m going to plan this part of my assignment" – if you feel overwhelmed, break it down into smaller sections.

3. Find your ideal method and environment

I try to work through the course materials as soon as I can so that I don’t procrastinate too much - everyone has their own way to study and it really pays to find out what works best for you.

Personally, I respond well to bright colours and keeping everything organised, so when I release a new module I open a new exercise book and start making notes on the key information within the course material.

My notes are littered with different colour highlights, post it notes, diagrams and anything else that will help me to absorb the information I need.

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This leads to my next point, creating a good environment. Now, this isn’t always easy - or in fact doable in my experience. However, designating a desk or an area of a room for your studies will really help you to focus and get in the zone! Although this doesn’t mean you can’t work anywhere else, I firmly believe you can complete your course from anywhere and that’s the beauty of online study.

If you feel you’re struggling to keep the balance, just take a deep breath and try to organise yourself. You’ll feel so much better having a plan in place. You can always defer a module if you have a few surprises pop up along the way, and there are resources available to help you and give you support.

4. Ask for help if you need it

If time is really against you, I would suggest sitting down with your manager and asking for some flexibility or if you could use some unpaid holiday to complete your assignment – I have done this a couple of times during my studies and it really does help.

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It can be daunting to approach your boss with this, but most of the time they’re more understanding than you might think. Your qualification will benefit both you and the company you work for, so it makes sense for them to help you if they can.

Also, remember there are a number of resources available to you for support, including the career portal (found via the ‘careers’ tab on your homepage).

You can find Joy Suzanne's Instagram account here.