Part-time work has become quite common at university, but it can be hard to fit it around your studies. Here are some key tips to help you find that balance.
There are some definite benefits to working part-time while at university such as extra income, work experience and learning new skills. However, it can be hard to juggle work with your academic work and still try to maintain some kind of social life.
We’ve put together some ideas that can help ease the stress of juggling so many commitments and make part-time employment work for you.
1. Plan ahead
This is absolutely key. Managing two schedules is a lot for anyone to deal with and will require meticulous planning, so you know exactly where you should be and when. Consider investing in a daily diary or planner.
Or if you’re more into tech, get to know your phone’s calendar functions and make sure you keep on top of adding in shifts and lectures.
You can also download apps such as Fantastical, which allows you to input events through voice notes when you need to set a quick reminder in a hurry.
2. Use your time wisely
This feeds into the first point quite nicely. Once you’ve set up your plan for the week, with all your classes and work shifts, try to be disciplined in how you spend the rest of your time.
If you have two hours to kill before a lecture, head to the library to do some research, or carry a textbook with you and get some reading done on the bus or during a lunch break. Grabbing these little moments can really help your productivity levels. And make sure you actually do these things rather than scrolling through Instagram for two hours.
On a related note, use the time off you have during the holidays. Pick up extra shifts at work and save your paycheques to use during term time, or get a head start on some reading or researching. You’ll feel so much more prepared when term starts.
3. Make time for yourself
However, among all this, I cannot stress enough the importance of scheduling in downtime as well. This will help to combat the sense of burnout that can often accompany a packed schedule.
Find little pockets of time where you can binge-watch a TV show, go out with friends or join a society. Anything that helps you unwind and relax will be beneficial to your mental and physical health.
While you may sometimes have to turn down invitations from friends to fit everything in, try not to do this too often as it can make you feel as though you aren’t getting the most out of your university experience.
4. Don’t overstretch yourself
This is a crucial point. Only take on work you can feasibly do. As much as this is true for your health, you need to look at the bigger picture – you’re unlikely to perform well at university if you are overtired and stressed.
There is a temptation to grab as many hours as possible to ensure you have money in the bank, but if you’re overworked you may end up taking time off sick and your studies will undoubtedly suffer.
5. Stay healthy
Try to maintain a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise as and when you can.
If you’re studying and working, chances are you are going to be using a lot of energy. This means that, more than ever, you should strive to eat enough nutritious food and get a good night’s sleep. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do this all the time. Nobody is perfect, but aiming to eat a few more vegetables and trying to go to sleep half an hour earlier never really hurt anyone.
6. Keep people updated
Make sure your employer knows that you are a student and that they are happy for you to move shifts around if you need to. That way, if you are getting close to a deadline with no chance of finishing and you feel like you won’t make it to work, your employer might be able to arrange cover.
Similarly, talk to your tutors if you are struggling to balance studying and working. Most tutors will recognize the need for people to work while at university and may be able to help out with extensions or extra support.
If you’re finding it hard to balance working and studying, don’t just keep powering through until you hit burnout. There are services that can help you, such as your tutor, your students’ union or your university advice center.