Does the prospect of returning to study fill you with excitement or a slight sense of trepidation? Feeling a bit of both is normal, because it’s no small thing to take on. After all, this challenge means balancing your day job with meeting study deadlines, maintaining family obligations, and, of course, squeezing in time for exercise and catch-ups with friends.
Rather than feel overwhelmed, it pays to remember that there are tried and true strategies you can adopt to make this period of your life a productive and – dare we say it – satisfying journey.
Let’s get started.
Engage a flexible mindset
To set yourself up for success, you’re going to need to become more adaptable. The concept of cognitive flexibility is one particularly practical way for you to engage your critical and creative faculties and use them to your advantage.
Being able to switch between two concepts flexibly keeps your mind agile and focused on the task at hand.
For example, if you can tackle a task with a holistic overview of what your end goals are you’re going to find that you can think far more creatively than if you maintain a laser-like focus on smaller problems. Innovative thinking also comes from collaboration. Try to be open to other points of view. Working in this way can help you build your business acumen, which will help you succeed in your studies and make you more employable after you graduate.
Resist the urge to control
Sometimes you just have to let life happen. One of the keys to avoiding burnout is to let go of perfectionism. As your life necessarily becomes more structured during this period, with more demands on your time, it’s healthier to strive for excellence, not perfection.
If you’re adaptable and open to change, it’ll make you more resilient.
You’re also more likely to balance the pressures of work/study/life like a human being rather than a robot.
Deepen your relationships with the best people in your life
Cultivating social intelligence is all about improving the quality of your relationships with others – your cultural awareness, your personal judgement, collaborative skills, communication and influence.
Why is this relevant? Because the modern workplace demands that you have the capacity to work across cross-functional teams, adapt to the introduction of new technologies, and maintain an agile mindset. If you can begin to work ‘soft-skills’ into your work/study regime and build productive relationships with your peers, you’ll be more effective at juggling competing demands.
Identify what’s most important in your life right now and make sure it truly reflects your priorities. Then draw firm boundaries around them so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities. That’s efficiency in action. If you want the competitive edge in a competitive job market, developing your emotional intelligence is what will get you across the line.
Some final checklists to get you on your way
Sort out your life admin – if you set up a good framework before you get started you’ll find it easier to stick to your study goals.
- Find a tool that will help you schedule – Whether you’re someone who works with a paper calendar or diary or a digital tool, organising your schedule will make study so much easier. Block out the time that you intend to dedicate to uni work, and in that time schedule in reading, writing, research and collaboration time.
- Don’t forget priorities – When planning, remember to dedicate time to your friends, family, kids or pets, as well as other work commitments. By the time we hit early-to-mid career we have all sorts of extra-curricular obligations that still require attending to. You should remember that when scheduling, negotiating timetables and planning for study.
- Ask for help – If you’re going to need your partner, parents, flatmates or friends to take up some slack when it comes to picking up the kids from school or even something as simple as cleaning the house, have those conversations sooner rather than later.
- Work out your budget – Think about how being busier will impact your life and budget. Will you need a babysitter more often? Will you be using more petrol? Drinking more coffee? Work out how you can make that work. If you don’t have a whole lot of room in your budget, make sure you don’t blow out due to lack of planning.
Before you commence your studies, familiarise yourself with all the aspects of university life that will make things run as smoothly as possible. Do all you can to acquaint yourself with this new environment so that study isn’t hampered by minor logistical frustrations.
- Visit your campus – Figure out where your classes are, find out how to access library facilities, sort out your timetable, locate the quiet study rooms, discover where the car parks and bike lockers are, note down what hours you can access all these facilities.
- Ensure student support services are on speed-dial – There are lots of resources readily available to you. We even have a dedicated Concierge team at our City Campus.
- Acquaint yourself with tech resources – If you’re studying online, login, check things out, follow our social media accounts to receive updates in your newsfeed. Bookmark latrobe.edu.au. Download the MyLaTrobe app, begin the orientation section of Career Ready Advantage. Download all your academic readings and software. Don’t let technical hitches put you on the back foot before you even begin.
With this toolkit to hand, you too can master the art of time and priority juggling.