Having worked since the age of 14 -where have those 5 and a half years gone?- I feel I’ve not only become pretty skilled in the art of juggling (if I do say so myself) but am also experienced enough to share what works for me. I should start by saying the ability to balance things (and how well you do) often comes down to your personality type. People who know me well, know by now that I’m generally the organised, dedicated (but somewhat obsessive) one, which helps greatly when it comes to managing time but has its fair share of negatives too!
Rightly or wrongly, the core of my organisation is the need to ‘want to do it all’. I’m one of those people pleasers who wants to put 100% effort in for everyone and everything I do – which means even menial tasks can quickly eat up my time.
While I’m lucky that I honestly adore my job as a swimming teacher; my employers are very aware and considerate of my studies and my shifts are considerably shorter than the brutal retail stints, I think the following advice is still flexible to any circumstance.
For me, the success of juggling a job while being a student is all rooted in time management. So you probably know what I’m going to say…’TO-DO” LISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND.
If you don’t write daily to-lists I honestly don’t know how you manage to get anything done.
I rely on a to-list every single day (unless I’m on holiday or having a seriously lazy day). I don’t make them pretty or aesthetic but they do get the job done. Bullet journalling or seriously catergorising your list into priorities etc might work for some. However, I find it easiest to write down every single thing I need to do that particular day.
My lists often vary from having to wash my clothes & reply to a work email to making fabric samples for my course.
In this way, literally everything is right in front of you, however tiny the task. Similarly, when life is really stressful (e.g. during a deadline or previously during exam months) I’ll map out my to-do list for the whole month. Putting in key dates which won’t change (a deadline and exams) as well as chunks of time dedicated to something else (e.g. your work shifts) allows you to see all the time you’ll have remaining. Then you can work backwards and fill in all the prep work you’ll have to do for these key dates as well as allowing yourself specific slots or days for rest and socialising.
I’ve noticed, a lot of students will automatically gravitate towards a system like a timetable, to-do lists or a calendar in exam months but completely ditch this whole practise for the rest of the months of the year. Whether it’s computerising your to-lists/calendar or jotting things down old school style on paper (I actually do both because I’m that systematised) surely managing your time and commitments should be a priority all year round?
All of this may sound really simple and obvious -in which case it sounds like you’re already managing your time. But a lot of people like to hide behind the excuse of ‘not having enough time’.
The amount of people who ‘don’t know how’ I manage to have ‘enough time’ to study, work & blog always amazes me. There’s no secret – everyone could do it.
We all have time and we all have the ability to prioritise our time. Over the years I’ve found having a job through stressful times like GCSEs, A levels and art foundation deadlines weirdly helpful.
Knowing your time is severely reduced because of other commitments forces you to make the most of the time you have.
When your studies are condensed and concise you’re less likely to get bored; more likely to retain information and make the most of your time; could even see work as a mind break from studies and will definitely appreciate your free time more.
So if you’re finding yourself procrastinating too much and leaving deadlines to the last minute perhaps it’s not that you have no time but that you have too much time on your hands…