Whether you’re a non-traditional student with a family who works full-time and takes classes online or a full-time college student in your early twenties with a part-time job, working while going to school takes a lot of dedication and some good time management skills.
CBS News reports that 71% of college students in the U.S. had jobs in 2011. More than half of undergrads worked at least 20 hours per week and 20% held down full-time jobs throughout the entire year—even though colleges and administrators generally recommend students work just 10 to 15 hours per week.
It’s not surprising that it can all start to feel a little overwhelming once in a while. It’s impossible to add more hours to the day, but you can feel like you have more time when you implement these tips:
Deadlines and due dates can approach quicker than you ever imagined they would. If you know about an assignment several weeks or even months before it’s due, do not wait until the last minute to start. Not only does procrastination lead to feelings of grief, anxiety and quite possibly guilt, there’s a pretty good chance your work will be shoddy since it was so rushed. You’ll also eat into the time that you should have been doing something else—sleeping, other assignments, or work. If starting something big causes you to feel overwhelmed, break it into manageable chunks, recommends Forbes.
Many people roll out of bed each morning and stumble half-blindly into the shower. The water can help perk you up, but showering at night can help relax you—so you can fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly—and save precious time in the morning. Concerned about being smelly? You won’t be running a marathon while you sleep, so unless you sweat profusely at night, applying deodorant after your shower and again when you get dressed in the morning should suffice.
Speaking of getting dressed, choosing your outfit the night before is a great way to save time at the start of each day. If you know that you’ll have to change clothes tomorrow—for example, from your school clothes into your work uniform—make sure you have that outfit ready, too.
If you scramble around tossing books and other belongings into your bag each morning only to waste another ten minutes looking for your keys before you can leave, start gathering everything before bedtime. Set your books, bags, work clothes and anything else that you’ll need the next day together, preferably right next to the door.
Do you ever go to the bank only to come back home and realize you’re out of toothpaste? Drop off forms at your academic advisor’s office on Monday even though you have a class with him on Tuesday? Look at your school and work schedules as well as your to-do list and shopping list. Multitasking and getting various errands done all at once can add precious time to your already-hectic schedule.
If you work part-time, a work study or student employment position is ideal because you could realistically put in shifts between classes. If jobs on campus are hard to come by or you want to earn more per hour, consider one with a short commute and flexible management that understands school is your top priority.
Computers are a necessity these days, but we’re all guilty of wasting time on Facebook and other websites. The habit not only drains time out of your already busy schedule, it can be especially harmful if you open your laptop to write a paper or take an online class, only to find yourself stalking an ex online or checking out your friends’ vacation pics. They’re great for staying in touch with friends and family, but do your best to limit the amount of time you spend on social networking sites. Log on once or twice per day for a few minutes if you must, not one or two hours per day.
Whenever you have a few minutes between classes or an hour or two to kill before you have to clock in at work, crack open your books. You’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish in ten or fifteen minute slots.
Putting your phone on vibrate when you climb into bed seems like a good idea, but that buzzing sound can be just as noisy as your ringtone. Not only can it wake you up, you’ll be tempted to roll over and see who texted you or what email you just received.
If you’re a people-pleaser who puts others ahead of yourself, stop. There’s nothing wrong with helping out a friend or agreeing to go out on Friday night if you can take a break for a bit, but saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” on a regular basis can ultimately cause your grades to drop because you wind up too busy to study and work. Learn how to accept invitations only when you truly want to and have enough time.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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