The most important lesson that I have learned in balancing school and a part time job has been this: make the most of the time you have right now.
How? Well, here is where it gets a little tricky. Time management tips and tricks don’t always work the same way for everyone.
My advice as a universal rule of thumb, no matter how you manage your time, is to simplify your life so what you spend your time doing reflects what matters the most to you.
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With college admissions getting kicked into high gear, the end of the first term, extracurricular activities starting again, and every other thing that goes on in life, my time has been extremely limited. This is my first year working while school is in session, and it is hard.
These past few months, I have really had to look at everything I do on a daily basis, and cut back on the things I don’t need to do all the time.
In my case, the biggest change I had to make was to cut back the time I spend on social media and Netflix. Instagram, Twitter
are like the black holes of time wasting and distraction for me; especially when the task at hand is not the most pleasant. (Homework, I’m looking at you.)
Even though I have cut back on social media, I still find time to check up on it. For me, a few minutes here and there in between different activities is when it I can still see what all my friends are up to without wasting valuable time I could be doing something more productive.
Specific examples are in the twenty minutes I have after school before I have to leave for work, and for a few minutes when I first get up in the morning.
Another thing that has worked really well for me is using the down time I have at school to get a head start on homework. After a lesson is complete in a class like math or science, teachers often leave time for the students to do exactly this.
Working on college application essays, or starting on a math review during school when I feel the most productive has made all the difference when I have to work. Another good time to work on any homework that is easily portable (like a worksheet or any work on a laptop) is during breaks at work.
Doing this as often as I can has helped me continue working when I get home, because I already have an idea of what I need to do in order to finish the assignment.
The most unfortunate, but inevitable truth about working during school: there are going to be a lot of late nights. Be prepared. Not falling behind is key to being able to balance work and school. Avoid it if you can, because staying up late to finish an assignment or study for a test is usually worth it. But be careful that you don’t overdo it.
For me, this has been the hardest part. It’s a very thin line between staying up to accomplish what you need to do, and sacrificing being mentally present the next day or falling asleep in class. Once you know your limit, don’t push it.
My final piece of advice is to be honest with your manager and coworkers. They know that you have a life outside of your part time job, and I have found that they want your education to be your first priority.
If you need to cut back on some hours, or something comes up last minute and you need someone to cover your shift, chances are you will find someone who is willing as long as you are respectful and strive to be flexible, offering to switch your work shift for a different day.
While it’s important to be honest with the people you work with, don’t forget to be honest with yourself. If you find that working during school just doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to quit or take a break for a month or two.
Working can bring a lot of neat experiences and teach you a lot about yourself and how to get along with other people in a professional setting. Hard work always pays off, whether it’s directed towards a job or school.
Take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and you’ll do just fine.