Many adult students wonder how they’ll be able to juggle all of their current responsibilities and with the added demands of a university degree program. If you’ve spent any length of time in the working world, you’ve heard the term “time management.” But it’s unrealistic to think that time can truly be “managed.”
Instead, think in terms of managing yourself.
This is a skill. You can certainly learn to devote the time necessary to complete your degree while keeping up with other areas of your life.
The first consideration is to choose a university with a degree program that accommodates the needs of working adult students. It’s also helpful to look at how you currently spend your time during the day. Make a list of all your activities and note the number of hours you allocate to each.
For example, your list might include the time you spend commuting to work, how many breaks you take during the day, number of hours watching television or movies, reading, cooking, housework, shopping, home maintenance – you get the idea. Be honest with yourself and account for everything. Then, look at where you might be able to cut back. Everyone wastes time, so find these areas. Learn how to exchange wasted time for study time. Even 15 minutes is significant if you can use it on school work. Cross off things like waxing the car or spending time on Pinterest. These things can wait.
Next, it is important to be highly organized.
Keeping organized isn’t as difficult as you may think. Putting in a few hours early can go a long way in keeping you on track for the rest of the semester.
Create lists with deadlines and priorities to help you remember what needs to be done. Include your class schedule, class meetings, projects, research, exams, work assignments and family time. Breaking things down into small steps and timelines will keep you on track and feeling less overwhelmed.
Identify your best time for studying. Are you a morning or afternoon person? Choose a time when you can concentrate well. Use your down time for less demanding tasks. That said, study the most difficult subjects first when you’re fresh and better able to absorb the material. This will save you time in the long run.
Distributed learning and practice means studying in shorter time blocks with shorter breaks in between – this will keep you from getting tired. Even when you are taking a break, your brain is processing the information.
Being an adult student can be a wonderful and enriching experience. There are a number of resources available to help you manage your time wisely. Start slowly to retrain your brain to study and then make a conscious effort to manage yourself – very easily, you will find the time you need to devote to your studies.