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Keep Your Job AND Complete Your Degree - 5 Time Management Tips

Students pursuing higher education face the daily chore of finding a delicate balance between managing a career and earning a degree.

Ever felt overwhelmed with a steadily-mounting checklist without being able to cross anything off? Balancing your online degree program with life’s challenges can be...challenging.

The best way to solve this dilemma: effective utilization of time management.

Sure, easier said than done, but if you find yourself playing catch-up, try these tips and see if they produce any results. You may be surprised with the outcome.

1. Plan your days.
Sometimes, thinking about the busy day ahead can fill up the anxiety meter. Instead, compile a to-do list that prioritizes the day’s most important events. Put your most pressing issue at the top, and least pressing issue toward the bottom. Complete the to-do list starting with the most important item. Not surprisingly, you have the most energy before checking off items. Crossing items off a prioritized to-do list will assist in areas of work presentation, organization and efficiency. Plus, you’ll feel more in control of the busy day, not the other way around.

2. Decrease distractions – to a point.
On particularly busy days, cutting down on the Xbox 360 and the latest episode of Lost would increase productivity. But it’s important not to get carried away. Reward yourself with an episode of your favorite TV show or a few minutes on your video game of choice, even on the busiest days. It’s recommended to complete the first item on your list first, though, as a motivating tactic. My favorite TV show of all-time is The Wire. After a particularly stressful day at work, I used to unwind with an episode and not worry about anything. Working on a to-do list all day and night is not healthy. Have some fun.

3. Technology has come a long way: Use it during long waits.
I’m guessing most students have phones with Internet connection, and most of these operating devices are smart phones. A thought to consider: How many places do you sit and wait for an appointment or service? The doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the DMV, filling a prescription, an oil change. Instead of looking at the sky and verifying it’s blue, this time can be more effectively utilized on items toward the bottom of your to-do list. Those small items that perhaps only require 45 minutes to an hour. Two weeks ago, I waited in a doctor’s office for an hour and 10 minutes. It was rough. But I used the time to work on a blog entry for work on my iPhone. After the appointment, I felt like I had accomplished two things at once.

4. Set deadlines.
Setting realistic, personal deadlines for projects and term papers can be a nice habit to get into in relation to your full- or part-time job. Students who are also managing a career undoubtedly have deadlines to meet. Practicing a similar approach with your schoolwork will help maintain a desirable work ethic.

5. Get enough rest.
Only you know how much rest you truly need to most effectively function the next day during school or in the workforce. For instance, I require at least six hours of sleep for significant focus the following day. Seven hours, solid; eight hours, ideal. Whatever the number, a good night’s sleep can leave you feeling re-energized. Furthermore, carrying out the first four tips on this list with regularity will allow for this fifth tip to become more feasible.

Contributed by Eric Sorrention, Grantham University

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