Unplug and Carve Out Some Free Time

We’re all just so busy.  Working, studying, raising kids, planning for the future.  Sometimes, for those of us tethered to all these activities by the computer, it can seem like we just don’t get enough time to unplug – literally or figuratively.  Here are a few tips on how to reclaim the spare time you may recall having once had to spend on yourself.  These come courtesy of Kari Henley and you can read her whole article about Reclaiming Spare Time here.  Kari says: Email Self-Control — Declutter your inbox by unsubscribing to anything you don’t need or read regularly, and try not to continue long email conversations that aren’t necessary. One of Therese Borchard’s tricks is to take weekend breaks from her computer. Imagine! This is a great way to scrounge up a ton of free time — think of it as email Sabbath, (Reading this column, however, is an acceptable exception). Social Networking is junk food, plain and simple. Let’s face it — Facebook is the Doritos of friendships and Twitter is a super size box of Fries. Both are tempting, and both are ultimately not all that healthy. Take the time for some “slow food” — home-cooked friendships that require face-to-face time. If you are IM’ing someone in your office, get up and try walking over for a change. Facebooking your best friend? Pick up the phone or stop by; imagine how you look from space, hunched over terminals sharing the daily chatter. Find the “in-between” moments of the day to embrace as spare time. Driving is a great opportunity to do some deep breathing, turn off the noise in your head, and notice the scenery around you, rather than listening to talk radio, eating, or talking on the cell phone. Find the moments in the shower, doing dishes or walking the dog to flatten out as buffer zones of nothingness. Force yourself to be bored. Remember being bored? It is the MacDaddy of spare time. Kids today think five or six seconds of spare time equals being bored, and many adults’ tolerance for unfilled moments is not much better. Set aside several hours once a month with nothing particular to do and see how it affects you.

Flexibility is a Blessing but Structure is Important

Many online students point to the flexibility of online study as one of the main reasons they chose to go to school via the internet.  It is true for folks who juggle work, family and studies, being able to allocate one’s own time and formulate one’s own schedule is invaluable to succeeding in all these important tasks.  Sometimes, it is necessary to get creative with the schedule in order to accommodate the incidental issues that pop up in life.  In these cases, you may find yourself pushing study time into the late night slot, or scheduling family breakfasts instead of family suppers.  This may be a useful ability to have, but recent research seems to indicate that having a more stuctured daily routine is better for your mind and body.  Follow me over the fold for a synopsis and links to the research in question. Continue reading…

Time Management Strategies Essential to Work/Study Balance

Developing time management skills, like any other worthwhile endeavor, requires planning and then lots of practice. But the benefits of mastering your own schedule can be felt in all areas of your life; personal and professional. The overall point of focusing on time management is to become more aware of how you use your time and break your days up between work, study, family, social activities, and sleep.clock Follow me past the jump for some ideas on how to begin the process and practice better time management. Continue reading…

Balancing Work and Studies

My cousin is currently working a full time job and going back to school for some retraining after losing her job in an industry heavily impacted by the recession.  Watching her struggle with keeping both her job performance and her studies from flagging, prompted me to look online for some ideas from others on how to balance work and studies.  I will share with you what I recently shared with her.  Here are some pretty common strategies for work/study balance that I encountered among the experiences of others posted online. 1) Be OrganizedWhether you prefer an oldschool notepad, a traditional day planner or a fancy new PDA, it is critical to keep track of your obligations to both job and school. 2) Take an Incremental Approach – Don’t begin by trying to handle overtime at work and a full course load.  Start out with a little less and see how you’re able to handle the load.  If you have the bandwidth you can add more work hours or credits to your course load. 3) Balance the Difficulty of Your Classes – Select your classes wisely each semester.  Mix some harder classes with some easier ones and you’ll find working and studying to be more sustainable.  Taking all the tough classes together at the same time can lead to burnout! 4) Transcript Management – Keep on top of your credits.  Especially if you’re attending different schools in pursuit of your educational goals.  Even some credits you may have earned 10 years ago may still be transferable. And if you’re currently a student of Allen School Online, then you’re on the right track because you’re already doing the last frequently mentioned strategy: 5) Consider Online Schools – The freedom and flexibility of taking online courses can really help out if you are working full time, taking care of children or both.