Getting a college degree can be like a full-time job. Between attending hours of classes, keeping up with pages of assigned readings, research projects and exams, it’s easy to fill your days just trying to keep up. Add a family and a job, and it isn’t always possible to give school every minute of your time. That doesn’t mean success is off the table, but it will certainly require more discipline and creativity — something you’ve probably got if you took this on. Here’s how to find more time to study when life gets demanding.
Make a Date
Study time might not happen without intentional planning. Each week should begin with creating a schedule for getting in enough study time. You can outline the week ahead in a planner or on a large sheet of paper. (Academic planners are great for this.)
Map out inflexible commitments, like work hours and classes, first. Family needs can be added next. From there, block out several appointments of an hour or more for studying throughout the week.
Capture Wasted Minutes
Long study sessions can be productive, but they’re not the only opportunity for getting tasks done with a busy schedule. As a parent and an employee, you’ve likely wasted minutes in your day that you could be using to get schoolwork done.
Take flashcards along for the ride in the school pick-up line. Use the commute for review by listening to audio recordings of lectures in the car. Always bring along class notes and a textbook to squeeze in studying during kids’ sports practices and music lessons.
Cut Out Distractions
Your studying time is precious, so don’t waste it getting distracted by social media. Turn off the smartphone and bury it deep in your bag. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to encourage concentration. Use a timer to study in distraction-free blocks of 25 minutes, followed by five-minute breaks for stretching your legs or checking emails or social media.
Find the Quiet Hours
With kids at home, it can feel like there isn’t a single moment of quiet in the day. Many working parents have learned that the early morning hours, from four to six a.m., can be the perfect opportunity for concentrated studying. If early rising isn’t your thing, work toward it slowly by setting an alarm for 15 minutes earlier each day. Have the coffee pot ready for action and decide before bed what you’ll tackle first when the alarm sounds.
Taking a less conventional path to a degree isn’t easy, but it is possible. Making a few sacrifices to find more time for studying will pay off down the road. Give these techniques a try and see what works for you.