Yes, you can! Learn how to balance work with online classes.
The flexibility of taking online classes is a real boon for the working student. But being able to study in your pajamas at 2 a.m. doesn't change the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day -- and somehow you have to squeeze work, school, and at least a little time for yourself into those hours.
Here are some tips to help you balance what's going on in your life without burning yourself out.
Know How You Learn
Is there a certain time of day (or night) that you feel most alert and motivated to study? Since you can access online course materials 24 hours a day, don't fight those natural inclinations -- capitalize on them by planning your study time around your motivation.
Create a Schedule
Speaking of plans, don't settle for a vague assumption that you'll "work some study time in somewhere." Putting yourself on a consistent study schedule, and then sticking to it, is the best way to make sure your coursework doesn't get away from you.
Sticking to a schedule also keeps you from creating unrealistic goals, such as thinking you'll study five chapters of material in the half-hour before your test. Nope, not gonna happen -- and if you've planned out a realistic study schedule beforehand, it won't have to.
Look for Pockets of Hidden Time
Today's wireless world means you can access your online course materials from almost anywhere. Fine-tune your time management by reading up on your assigned texts or participating in forum discussions while you're on the train or the bus, or while waiting to pick your kids up from school or extracurricular activities.
Even though online learning offers a lot of flexibility, there's no way around the fact that combining work with any kind of school is a major effort. Protect yourself from burnout and stress-related health problems by exercising regularly and planning a little "you time" every day, even if it's just five minutes to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Oh, and sleep? Do it. As tempting as it might be to cut down on sleep to make room for other activities, being well-rested helps you work more efficiently, get more out of your education, and truly enjoy your free time (instead of napping it away).
Yes, You Can!
Striking -- and maintaining -- a work-life balance may seem foreign at first. But you can do it! Keep your eyes on the prize and remember that you're doing this for a good reason. And just think how easy your schedule will feel once you're done with school!