Working a full-time job is difficult enough. Trying to work a full-time job while going to school or studying for a professional certification exam is even more challenging. And if you aren’t careful, your mental health could be the thing that goes to the wayside.
6 Tips for Finding the Right Balance (And Protecting Your Mental Health)
As you attempt to balance work with school/studying, it’s imperative that you have a plan. This isn’t something where you can just grit your teeth and hope it all works out for the best. It’s going to be a grind – and you need a very specific plan to ensure you’re successful in both areas (while also making sure you don’t go crazy in the process).
Here are a few suggestions:
- Set Specific Goals
Begin by setting very specific goals and expectations for yourself. This includes goals for both school/studying and work. What are your expectations for each? How much time will you dedicate to each on a daily and weekly basis? How will you measure success in each area?
When setting goals, it’s always a good idea to use the SMART framework, which says goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
- Open the Lines of Communication
You’re going to face a lot of pressure over the coming months. If you self-isolate and try to bottle all of this pressure up, you’re going to have a mental breakdown. One way to relieve some of this pressure is by opening the lines of communication with the people who are closest to you.
Start by having pointed conversations with close friends, significant others, roommates, and family members whom you interact with on a regular basis. Let them know that you’ll be busier than usual in this season of your life. And even though you won’t be able to spend as much time with them, you’re not neglecting or avoiding them.
It’s also a good idea to have conversations with your boss. Let them know that you’re doing “double duty.” An understanding boss will show you some grace and help you manage.
- Reduce Your Obligations
Now is not the time to fill up your calendar with lots of social obligations and extracurriculars. If anything, this is a season where it makes sense to reduce your obligations and simplify your calendar. You’ll need to get good at saying no to things – even if it’s something that you want to do. Time is precious during this period. Protect it as much as you can.
- Create a Study Plan
Studying isn’t going to happen by accident. When you’re exhausted from work, the last thing you want to do is go home and spend another two or three hours studying. And if you don’t plan it into your daily schedule, it simply won’t happen.
Take the CPA exam, for example. If you’re working a full-time job and studying for the rigorous CPA exam, you must have a plan. This starts with selecting the right CPA review course. Once you have a good course, you need to go through the curriculum and add the lessons/modules to your calendar. Start with your exam date and work backward so that you complete the course in time.
- Take Care of Your Physical Health
Physical health and mental health are closely intertwined. If you aren’t taking care of your physical health – which is easy to neglect when you’re busy – your mental health will suffer as a result.
This probably isn’t the time to start a rigorous workout plan or intense diet. However, you should make time for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. On top of that, try eliminating as many processed foods as possible and consuming more fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meat. Staying properly hydrated is also key.
- Carve Out Down Time
Finally, carve out some time in your schedule to relax and unwind. You should have at least one or two hours per day where you’re not working or studying. Use this time to journal, read, listen to music, or go for a walk. Do anything to get your mind off the stress of daily life.
Adding it All Up
Balancing school and work is possible. However, you must have an intentional plan that prioritizes your mental health and stability. Hopefully, this article has given you some tangible techniques that you can apply to improve your situation. If nothing else, it should get you thinking about specific ways you can plan ahead to increase your odds for success.