Three years ago, after finishing university, I decided to do uptake a diploma, my NCTJ specialising in magazine journalism. I know what you’re all thinking, why the hell would you want to do more studying after spending your life doing it?! It was a spontaneous thing. I was working at a call centre at the time and my thinking was, if I do more studying surely I would be able to get a job. Obviously I was SO naïve. I’d like to think this part of my personality has improved! When I eventually managed to get a job in ‘the media,’ my studying took a back seat. I didn’t really feel like I had to do it, I had a job and that was the main thing and of course, I had no time.
So, two years went by, and I didn’t even so much as pick up a pen and study. It wasn’t until last Summer when something clicked in my head, and a realisation that the course was something I’d always wanted to do, and the fact I had spent a lot of money signing up to it! I then persisted over the next few months to study and it really did take its toll, I forgot how to study but also, how hard it is to study and work full time. Coming home after a long day to pick up your notebook is difficult, it means my brain is working for about 16 hours of the day, with no room to rest. I have, however, managed to pick up some pointers along the way that have really worked for me, so if you’re struggling to study whilst working full time, then take a look.
This might seem an obvious one, but it’s a saviour. I find it really helps sitting down on a Sunday evening and planning your week, what you’ve got going on day by day and planning in your study time. I try to study little and often, so an hour each evening really helps and I don’t feel the pressure of trying to cram in as much as I can in one evening. I have a routine of getting home from work, eating dinner, running a bath and then settling down to open my textbooks. I have this thing where if I complete an assignment or read a chapter of a text book then I can treat myself with a bit of netflix before bed! It works wonders and you’ll be surprised how motivated you’ll feel if you reward yourself at the end. Get yourself a weekly desk planner and write down your jobs for the week, seeing it on paper and knowing where you’re at day by day will really help you keep on top of everything.
If you’re anything like me, I can only work and study in a tidy room. If you’re coming in from work the last thing you want to do is root through anything to find your textbook and notes. Keep all of your study things in one place, don’t let it take over your bedroom. This will make you feel bombarded and pressured, if you keep everything in a tidy place, you know where to find it and therefore more likely to do it! File all of your work and have designated notebooks for each subject or module you’re doing. I tried putting all my revision into a massive project book, but I found that everything kept getting muddled and un-organised. Think of it this way, it’s an excuse to buy pretty notebooks! If you’re doing a course that has multiple modules, take one module at a time. Don’t jump about between modules in the same day, this will leave your confused and overwhelmed.
TAKE TIME OUT
I used to feel so guilty if I was doing something other than studying. I’d say no to the pub or no to spending time with my boyfriend, because I felt so much pressure and guilt. However, this just turned me into a socially deprived, grouchy and tired mess, who was no fun to be around. It’s okay to take time out, if you’re not careful you’ll end up burning out and either your job or your studying will end up paying the price. At the end of the day, you’re studying because you’ve chosen to, it’s not A Levels or GCSES where you have to do it, there’s no pressure around it. If you feel like you don’t want to pick up a textbook, then don’t. Doing things half heartedly will never work out for the best, and you’ll find you’ll be reading the same page over and over again and nothing will go in. Have that night out, go do some shopping and take some time for yourself.
Other useful tips
Buy pretty stationary. Everyone knows that studying is better with pretty notebooks and colourful pens
Make use of wall space, try sticking up your timetable so you know what you’re doing
Revision cards. These are my life saver.
Check out online forums to find people who are studying the same thing
Find your best studying environment. If thats working in silence or with music, stick to it!
I hope this has helped any of you who are struggling to study whilst holding down a full time job. It’s hard and a struggle, but it’ll be worth it when you reach your end goal.