Finding the balance: How to fit study into your life
Between work and your home life, you’ve already got a full schedule. And now you’re thinking of adding study into the balance.
Going back to uni for professional development is a big step, but it doesn’t need to be a big life change. University of Melbourne courses are designed to fit in with your other commitments and enrich your career, not clash with it. Here are our top six tips for getting all the pieces into place.
Find the right course and workload
You don’t need to put your whole life on hold to go back to uni. Many of our graduate courses are offered online, so they can fit easily into your work schedule, and part-time, so you can take just one or two units at a time. And if a full two or three years of a Masters degree sounds daunting, you can sign up for a one-year Graduate Certificate and build towards a Masters if and when it suits your needs. If a course doesn’t appear to fit into your life, don’t be put off - it may be more flexible than it first appears. Ask for help.
Talk to your employer
If you’re returning to study while balancing a career, it’s worth talking over your options with your employer. In many cases they’ll be only too happy to help you further your education and bring what you’ve learned back to your organisation - in some cases even helping with course fees and giving you extra time off.
Find the time and space
With a lot of demands on your time, sitting down to get some studying done can quickly get pushed to the bottom of the list. Letting it slide and cramming it in later is tempting - but it’s worth staying on top of it and blocking out regular time to study, complete assessments. Find some time in your schedule to dedicate to study. And even more importantly, find a distraction-free workspace which you can dedicate to deep work.
Get into the zone
To get your brain into gear, you’re going to need to clear the air. Try switching your phone off or, at the very least your email notifications, to get into the right distraction-free headspace. Log out of your social media accounts. If you want to get right into the zone, try the pomodoro technique - break your work into focused blocks of time, working intensely for 25 minutes and then breaking for five. The fixed time limits help you focus and give you mini-deadlines.
Embrace the technology
Discipline takes work, but there’s plenty of help available. Apps like Evernote make keeping track of your work easy, syncing your notes across multiple devices and helping compile your references. There are many timing apps to help with your pomodoro study sessions, like FocusBooster, Toggl and Bear Focus Timer. The indispensable SelfControl app, available free on Mac, allows you to blacklist distracting websites for a set period of time while you work. And try Headspace, a guided meditation app that can help you clear your head after a busy day.
Find your learning style
There are a lot of theories around learning styles - the different ways that different brains absorb knowledge. But all you need to know is what works best for you. Do you learn best with some music in the background, or total silence? Do all these learning apps just distract you? No one knows your working style like you.