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How to balance work, study and your career goals

By Jana Angeles | 07 November 2019

Balancing work, study and your career goals takes hard work and determination. 

With the flexibility of online study, it helps to have a delivery mode that can help you undertake further study outside of work hours. It can be tricky to manage an online course while raising a family or working to a full-time work schedule, so it helps to be organised and diligent to help you effectively complete your studies.

To be successful as an online student, you need to first have a game plan on how you want to tackle your assessments while tending to your work and personal commitments. You may also want to consider that doing a nationally-recognised qualification with Upskilled can be an alternative study pathway to help you gain a place at your dream university. 

SkillsTalk go over some of the best ways you can successfully balance work, study and your career goals to help you stay focused as you take the opportunity to continue your education.

5 ways to balance work, study and your career goals

  1. Put your work and study schedule in a calendar. 
  2. Plan study sessions throughout the week.
  3. Do some study during your commute.
  4. Be realistic about your current goals.
  5. Find what motivates you.

1. Put your work and study schedule in a calendar. 

calendar and laptop flatlay

Having a visual overview of what your schedule is like for the week or month can help you plan your studies effectively. For instance, you may be working different shifts at your current retail job and you have to manage how often you are scheduled to do morning, afternoon or night shifts. 

With the unpredictable nature of shift work, this means you may need to be aware of your current working schedule and see what “free time” you have to be able to work on your assessments for your online course. 

By blocking out 3-4 hours of study per day before or after work can help you plan in advance and put those blocks of study sessions as part of your current schedule. Seeing your schedule visually can help you be accountable and track how often you work on your assessments or undertake reading for the learning materials assigned.

2. Plan study sessions throughout the week.

As mentioned above, seeing your schedule in advance can help you stick to your current plan of online studies. However, when setting study sessions throughout the week, it helps to know when you’re most productive and be realistic when it comes to how long you’ll actually study for

For example, you may not be feeling your best after a long shift at work and only have time to put in 1 hour of study afterwards. While this may not seem much, it is still making progress on your assessments and reading of the learning materials. 

While planning ahead is an effective way to stick to your study plan, it’s also worth considering the hiccups you may encounter during your studies. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a study session. Learn how to be flexible and acknowledge that sometimes things don’t go as planned! 

3. Do some study during your commute.

young woman working on laptop during commute

If you have a long commute that roughly takes about an hour and a half each way (with minimal transfers), you can use this to your advantage by studying before and after work. This equates to about 3 hours of decent study time if you have a laptop at hand and mobile internet connection. 

This may not work if you catch public transport during peak times so perhaps waking up before the rush hour of commuters may work to your benefit. Since you are already in the routine of catching public transport, fitting your study during this time can help you be more diligent when it comes to sticking to the schedule, especially if you are working full-time on weekdays.

If you would rather save time on commuter stress, negotiating flexible working arrangements with your employer can help with your study situation. By having the occasional day of working from home, it can make all the difference since you can start work at a time that suits you and be able to get into studying straight after. 

4. Be realistic about your current goals.

One of the benefits of online study is that if you have the time, discipline and motivation, you can complete a course in less than 12 months depending on your skills and experience. However, it’s important to evaluate and set realistic goals on what your next steps are.

For example, you could find yourself in a situation where you have little to no experience in the field of marketing but have completed a qualification that helps you develop the skills needed to be successful in the field. However, you may need work experience or pursue further studies at a university to help get your desired role in marketing. 

While your goals are relevant to you, it’s important to think about the timeline on your achievements and how this impacts you career-wise. You may need to revisit these goals again and change them according to your current work and study schedule. 

You also need to be aware of the current career trends and what qualifications you’ll need to help you find a role relevant to the field of your choice, so finding that balance is important so you don’t lose sight of what positive outcomes you’re trying to achieve here. 

5. Find what motivates you.

It can be overwhelming to find time to breathe between study and work, so it’s important to see what your motivations are when it comes to your studies. By finding out what truly engages you, it adds more meaning and value to continuing your education. It also helps to build confidence in yourself that can help you be up for a promotion, a better job or your boss entrusting you with more responsibilities in your current role.

Factors of motivation can be:
  • A better job role
  • Higher salary
  • Being promoted to a more senior position
  • Self-confidence in skills and abilities
  • Recognition of achievements
Your motivation isn’t limited to the factors listed above as these can be subjective according to your own personal circumstances. By having motivation, you are more likely to perform at your best in your studies because you have more of a purpose to stay on track and have an enthusiastic attitude when it comes to the completion of your assessments.

Need an alternative pathway to university?

Balancing work, study and your career goals isn’t easy but it’s still possible to do with the right attitude and motivation. Upskilled offers many nationally-recognised qualifications that can be a stepping stone to further education at a university or similar tertiary institute. 

With courses in IT, business and community services, there are a range of diploma and certificate-level qualifications you can choose from to develop your current skillset. Get in touch with an education consultant today by calling 1300 009 924 and learn more on how a nationally-recognised qualification can be an alternative study pathway to university. 
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