How to balance study and a part-time job

Living on a student budget can be challenging at times, and it is more than likely that you will need to look for part-time work at some stage during your studies.

Finding the right balance between study and work commitments can be a juggling act. Here are our top tips for staying on top of your assignments while managing your employer’s expectations at work.

Developing and maintaining a regular schedule allows you to feel more organised. Start a diary or planner so that you can structure your day. Plan out work hours, time for study, class times, exam blocks, due dates and, importantly, time for yourself. There are many online options and apps if you prefer not to carry around a planner diary.

Committing to more than you can handle is common.

However, it is important to understand that it is ok to say no sometimes. Study should be your main priority, so when you can’t fit everything in, learning to say no to other commitments can benefit you in the long run.

It is also crucial to ensure clear communication at work – ensure your manager is aware of when your lectures and tutorials are scheduled so that your work hours can fit around them. It is also important to advise your manager well in advance of when you will need time off for study blocks, to complete assignments, and exam periods.

Staying healthy both physically and mentally is essential to maintaining a good balance of your time.

Ensure you are eating plenty of nutritious foods so that your body is getting the nutrients needed for energy, boosting immunity and to make you feel good. Read our tips for healthy eating.

If you find the pressures of work and study are building up, recognise this feeling and act early to prevent burnout. Check out our de-stress tips to help you through the tough times.

Doing the things that make us feel good is also an important part of balancing life and keeping ourselves happy and mentally healthy.

Make a list of all the things you currently do, such as study, work, socialising, exercise, and hobbies. Also, add to the list all the things you enjoy doing but haven’t done in a long time. For each activity, think about how important it is and how it makes you feel. Once you’ve figured out what activities make you feel good, you can look at how you can make changes to fit more of those things around the activities that are important. Don’t forget to add time for these into your diary or planner!

When you start feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself why you are doing this. Focus on your goals and make sure you reward yourself when you achieve a milestone – big or small.

Creating a positive mindset is another way to keep sight of the ‘bigger picture’.

Keep positive by making a vision board or a special section in your diary where you display your goals and the journey you need to take to achieve them. When you feel down, referring to your vision board (or diary section) can help you re-focus on the important things.

There is plenty of help out there if you are feeling stressed or experiencing burnout.

Sometimes all it takes is having a conversation with someone you trust, like a friend, family member or colleague. Whether you talk through your feelings or connect to take your mind off things, this can be a great starting point.

You may decide to also speak with a health professional, such as a GP or psychologist.

Check in with your workplace and your university or college student support services. Together you can devise a plan to help you cope better, such as approving additional time off, reducing your responsibilities or giving you extra time to complete assignments.

Or you could download an app to help manage your stress with tools, activities, and support services.