By Julia Reinisch, Writer and Editor at Colorado Christian University
This is an article written by Colorado Christian University. While the article is focused on adult learners, we share it with you because many of the same tips apply to traditional undergraduate students, volunteers, parents, and working professionals.
If you’re like most adults, you have to juggle many responsibilities including working, raising a family, volunteering, and going to school. While it can be hard, it’s not impossible.
Here are eight tips for busy adults to maintain balance while earning their degree:
#1: Take care of the basics.
If you are going to school while working and raising a family, you know that it can be stressful. Making sure to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep are the simplest, most effective ways to reduce your personal vulnerability to stress. Not only will these things keep you from getting sick, you will think more clearly, feel more energized, and be better prepared to cope when things are hard.
#2: Budget your time.
Budgeting your time isn’t about having a rigid schedule; it’s about being structured, yet adaptable. When you focus first on things that add value to your life, you’re choosing to do more of what matters. Learn how to establish limits and boundaries — especially how to say “no” to things that don’t add value to your life. You can also create a study routine with daily and weekly goals so that you have a streamlined process. Establishing a routine is a great way to eliminate poor study habits, such as procrastination.
#3: Schedule family time and stick to it.
It’s important to schedule family time in the same way that you would schedule a work meeting or class. Some people write out their schedule in a planner and others create event reminders in their phones. But, what your family time looks like, is up to you. You might choose to sit down and eat a meal together, go on a walk, make one night your special family night, or even have a fun bedtime routine. Your plans don’t have to be elaborate, simply creating space for quality time with your family can make all the difference.
#4: Involve your family in your education.
By choosing to go to school, you are already setting an example for your kids — so why not involve them even more? If you are near a campus, brings your kids for a visit so they can see the buildings and maybe even meet your professors. Make doing homework fun by giving the kids their own activities to work on while you study.
#5: Build a support network.
Communicate your schedule and workload with your family early and often. If you are looking at a more difficult week with papers and exams, let them know ahead of time so that they can support you. If you have small children, it’s a relief when you take the time to find reliable child care. It’s also worth it to have a conversation with your employer about tuition assistance and schedule flexibility.
#6: Work and study smarter.
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for your homework, use real work situations as material for your courses. Not only does this bring more depth to your studies, it can provide you with real-time feedback, skills, and solutions that you can take to work with you the very next day. When possible, try to work ahead on your course assignments so that you don’t end up rushing to meet a deadline.
#7: Personalize your studies.
Where and when you study can make a big difference, but you have to know what works best for you. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Do you need an uninterrupted study place to focus or do you prefer the background ambiance of a coffee shop? Whatever your preferences, make sure to take advantage of your personal style and work with it instead of fighting against it.
#8: Be patient with yourself and persistent in your goals.
You are only human and you decide what success looks like for you. Some adult students who go back to school get frustrated when they don’t get all A’s in their classes. You determine your own standards, so if you don’t get all A’s does that mean you are unsuccessful? Find ways to remind yourself why you are going to school, this can keep you motivated when things are tough. And don’t forget to take time to celebrate milestones in your education; degrees are earned one step at a time!
Whether you’re thinking about going back to school or simply balancing multiple responsibilities, we hope that these tips are useful and help you to be successful — no matter where life takes you!