By Amy Bennett | October 9, 2017
Back in January I wrote a blog giving tips for adult college students. In that piece, I shared advice that I’ve heard over my many years of working with adult students and advisors in higher education—things like enlisting support from family and friends, good communication with your instructor, and not expecting perfection. As I reread what I had written, I realized that I could have delved deeper into the importance of managing stress via better time management skills.
If you’re an adult contemplating going back to school and you’re already working a full-time job, and juggling family responsibilities, you need to know that there will be an added priority which could lead to added stress. Come on. There are only so many hours in a day, and you also need to sleep. It’s a fact.
So, how do you add one more thing to your already full plate? Good question. My colleague, Karen Sloan, works full-time as a MAP advisor. She is also a mom, grandmother, daughter, friend, and sister. She has a very busy life, but she’s also going back to school. So I asked her this question, and below are her thoughts on time management skills to help lessen and manage stress while going back to school.
Write everything down. Organize. Plan. An hour-by-hour calendar is your friend.
- For Karen, sticking to her plan allows her to be accountable to herself. For others, you may need to share your goals with a friend or your spouse who can help you stay on track and hold you accountable for your progress. Just as Weight Watchers does for those of us who need to lose a few pounds. Why does Weight Watchers work? You have to weigh yourself weekly! You are accountable.
- Break your day into sections of time and then stick to your plan and only do that one thing. If it’s time to study, study. If it’s time to sleep, sleep. Don’t stray from your plan. Schedule in time to eat so you’re not tempted to fix a snack while you should be writing a paper. Do NOT answer your phone during your study time!
- Speaking of phones, put it far, far away. If your phone is in the other room, you won’t be tempted to Google an interesting vacation destination or read a text message—let alone respond to that text, and the one after that, and the one after that.
- Prioritize your social life. Do you really need to check Facebook? Decide which events you can skip. You may find that your school commitment is a good excuse to not attend some functions that you really don’t want to attend anyway!
- She also says that she gives herself one day to do no school work. For Karen, it’s Sundays. She sees her grandchildren every Sunday and she also takes time for herself. For those of you who’ve been on the dieting yo-yo, it’s your “cheat” day—a day just for you!
- Having one day off is also motivation. If you know that you have a test on Monday, you have to study on Saturday so you can “play” on Sunday, make sense?
- Sometimes you may find yourself during your allotted study time feeling overwhelmed and not able to concentrate. What should you do then? Karen says, she gives herself a 15 minute break to shake it off, but then she adds the time back in and goes to bed 15 minutes later than she had planned.
Overall, Karen says that she tries to visualize and focus on the outcome. She can see herself graduating with her Master’s degree—just like someone who is dieting tries to visualize how they would look if they were to lose 20 pounds. But, remember, this is just one person’s advice. You have to find what works for you. Just like I’m still searching for the perfect diet plan.
Related Story: My Decision to Go Back to School as a Working Mom