How To Succeed at Study While You Do Full-Time Work

Man studying after working full-time

Deciding that you want to undertake study is a big decision and there are important questions to consider. What am I going to study? Do I have the availability? Can I continue to work at the same time?

The good news is that it is very possible to work and study at the same time if you follow a few proven steps to help guide your success.

Embrace the ability to study online when you work full-time

In the age of technology, information and knowledge are readily available at our fingertips. It is now possible to study online, either part-time or full-time, and work concurrently. Whether you want to advance your skills or have decided on a career change, online study is a great option. It is the perfect solution for anyone who wishes to continue to work and doesn’t have time to travel to a higher-education campus to attend traditional and structured lectures or classes.

You can also study online in a time frame that is convenient for you. You won’t be subject to the pressure of early morning lectures, countless tutorials, dashing to campus straight after work or an inflexible pace that doesn’t accommodate your work, family or life.

Organisation is key to balancing work and study

Organisation is one of your greatest friends when you take on study. Many tools can help you to stay focused and organised when you are juggling so many priorities.

Harness the power of your calendar

  • If you don’t have one already, create a calendar for your everyday work and life activities, including staff functions, family events, birthdays and social gatherings. This may be a physical calendar, but for best results, we recommend using your phone’s native digital calendar.
  • Create a second calendar for study purposes and make sure it’s visible on your calendar view. See instructions on how to set up multiple calendars for:
  • Alternatively, you can skip creating a second calendar and colour-coordinate your events. For example:
    • Enter life and social events in blue
    • Make work functions black
    • Add your study sessions and assessments in red
  • Schedule when assignments are due, when you’ll have study sessions, plan to work on an assessment or submit a quiz.
  • If you can, schedule three 45-minute or one-hour study sessions every week at regular times. This may be on your commute home from work (if you take public transport), after the kids have gone to bed or when you first get up in the morning.
  • During busier study periods or if you want to get qualified faster, you may add a powerful two or three-hour study session to propel you further.
  • Most importantly, make sure the times you study fit around the rest of your life and are scheduled for periods where you won’t have as many distractions or interruptions.


How To Study When You Have No Time

Set time limits

Set time boundaries for yourself so that you can get everything done. For example, dedicate one hour to study before your daily walk or workout so you have a clear finish and reward. You can make completing a study session even more of a treat by calling up a friend on the phone for a chat while you walk the dog or cook dinner.

It can be tempting to push yourself hard, but it’s better to do a little regularly than a lot sometimes. Think of your brain like your laptop battery – it will go into battery-saver mode if you don’t give yourself time to plug in and recharge periodically. Additionally, your brain may start humming like your laptop fan taking off from overheating, especially if you’ve had a full day of work.

Clear your workspace

Your desk is where much of your work will take place, so make sure it isn’t covered with stacks of paper or old coffee mugs. A clean space with notepads and folders for each subject will help you compartmentalise your tasks and feel organised. It makes a big difference!

Make work-study balance a priority

Finding balance in life is important generally, but especially when you need to manage work and study with your everyday life. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Slow but steady wins the race.

You mustn’t lose touch with what’s important to you when you take on study. If you tend to put the things you enjoy on the back burner, it can lead to feeling run-down, low on energy and less happy. The solution is to prioritise. If you like to exercise, make time for it every day, even if only for 20 minutes. If cooking is your thing, then when it comes to dinner, put everything away and spend that time preparing something that will feed your body and your mind. If you want time to read a book or watch a movie, put your phone and computer away in the evening and devote that time to relaxation.

It can also help to remind yourself of the reasons you chose to study in the first place. Keep you goals front of mind to keep you motivated and focused.

It is possible to do the things you love and still work and study – you must simply prioritise what matters.

Learn how to ask for help

The first thing you need to learn isn’t how to log in to your learning portal – it’s how to ask for help.

If you are struggling with the work aspect of a work-study balance, approach your boss and let them know. Often, they will be understanding of your goals and help you in any way they can, especially if you are seeking further study to improve your quality of work and skills with their company. Honesty is truly the best policy and if you don’t tell people you need help, you will never get help.

If study is where you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to your teacher, assessors or student support team for assistance. Students with the College for Adult Learning can access support from learning coaches or student success advisors at any time by clicking on “Get Support & Contact Learning Coach” in the Spark dashboard menu or contacting support on our website.

Finding your work-study balance

Working full-time and taking on study can be overwhelming, and some days, it might feel like you can’t cope with it all. But by getting organised, choosing to study online and finding balance in life, it is certainly achievable.

To succeed, focus on your graduation date and how good you’ll feel for accomplishing your goals.

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