Schools Training

Balancing Work Life and Studies

9 APR 2014
Career Path : Career

You’ve found a great opportunity: you’re able to work and go to school at the same time, to avoid getting too much in debt while earning a degree. But once you’ve started, you can’t seem to find the time to fit everything in. Sound familiar? According to Statistics Canada, 72% of students hold part-time jobs while going to school. Combining education and employment is not for everyone, and balancing the two can be tricky. If you can’t seem to find enough hours in a day, here are some guidelines to help you balance your work life with your studies.

Develop a plan of attack

Establishing a budget and then tracking it over time sounds labourious, but it’ll give you a much clearer idea of how many hours you need to work per week to meet your financial commitments. Your plan of attack should also consider whether you want to get through your studies as fast as possible, of if it’s more realistic to take fewer courses per semester.


Decide on your priorities and accept that something, somewhere, will have to give, and not only the housecleaning. With so much on your plate, you can’t do everything, so you’ll sometimes have to pass on going out or seeing your friends.

Capitalize on school flexibility

More and more universities are tailoring services to workers’ schedules by offering night and weekend classes and extended library and bookstore hours. Some courses are even taught online, which could potentially save you a lot of travel time. Make sure to consult your school directory for all services and resources available to you as a student.

Schedule proactively

Mark upcoming professional and academic deadlines on a single calendar or in a planner. Plan ahead for sudden last-minute overtime requests at work. By blocking off a little more study time than necessary, you can adjust to unforeseen circumstances. Make sure to communicate your schedule to your friends and family.

Work smarter, not harder

Kill two birds with one stone by using an actual work situation as a class project. Cram in extra study time by printing out educational articles or writing study notes on index cards and then taking them along with you. Try studying in small, repeated intervals, instead of longer time blocks. Record lectures and listen to them during your daily commute. Do homework during any available spare time, rather than waiting to be home. Avoid time wasters!

Manage your stress levels

Stress is an inevitable part of being a student and a worker, so learn how to keep it in check. Take regular breaks, get enough sleep, eat healthy and stay physically active. If your job performance or academic standing begins to drop, take action. Falling asleep in class, drinking too much caffeine, becoming irritable or being unable to concentrate are important warning signs that you may need to re-evaluate your routine.

Remember why you’re doing it

You wouldn’t be tackling work and school simultaneously if you didn’t have good reasons. Although it may seem overwhelming at times, other people have succeeded, and so can you. List your school and area of studies on a calendar or daily planner to frequently remind yourself why you’re doing this. Focus on your goals!