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Whether you’re working a full-time job, raising a family, or both, working a program of study into a busy lifestyle requires strategy and planning. Time management skills are an absolute must when every minute in your day counts. Here are four tips for managing a hectic schedule and balancing school and work responsibilities.

Compare Work and Class Schedules

Idealist recommends sitting down before enrolling in any program of study and comparing your current schedule with course offerings. You may conclude that part-time study is the only course of action that makes sense, or maybe you can scale back your full-time work schedule to better accommodate your education. If you’re taking classes that are related to your current job, it’s more likely that an employer will try to accommodate your needs. Class schedules can vary widely, and some programs cater specifically to professionals already working within a related field. These programs of study may offer classes in the evening or at times when many people are scheduled to be off work. The bottom line is that you need to be able to reasonably reconcile your school schedule with your current life. Careful planning is what will help you reach your goals.

Use Your Current Job to Network

Using your current position as a way to network when you’re still in school is a great way to prepare for life after graduation, according to US News. If you’re juggling other responsibilities like having a family or working full-time in an unrelated field, you should utilize your current situation for the future. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop professional relationships. If your current job, for example, requires careful attention to detail and you’re going to school for Medical Insurance Billing, then it will be extremely useful after you graduate if your supervisor can attest to this skill. If you’re working within your field already and going to school to open more doors at your current employer, find a mentor who will help you. Never disregard potential opportunities to create lasting connections and develop skills that’ll be useful in future endeavors. One of the biggest parts of landing a job goes beyond your resume and relies on proven skill sets.

Write It Down in Ink

In an age when everyone keeps track of their schedule using digital calendars or planners, it’s easy to forget what effect tangibly writing something down can have. Fox Business suggests creating a physical calendar that you can look at to help prioritize obligations. Physically writing something down can make your schedule easier to visualize. Even if you need to put up a whiteboard in your home to remind you when you have evening classes that alternate with the kids’ soccer practice or a full-time job, having it in a physical format will help you keep track of your week. It’s easy to pack all of this data onto a mobile device, but information can get lost if you don’t look at the right page of your calendar or forget to add something. The best approach to having a physical calendar is either having a monthly wall calendar, or a week to week plan posted somewhere you’ll remember to look at it, like the kitchen. Having a traditional planner that you carry around in your bag is also helpful. The main idea is to visualize information, rather than just remember it, which will keep you on-point when you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks at once.

Get Online

Not everyone can travel to a physical campus, no matter how well they manage their time. Fortunately, the option of online programs in the last decade has increased accessibility for busy people to continue their education. Whether you have a small window of time between when you get home and go to bed, or you have only certain days free, completing a program of study online provides substantial flexibility. Vista College offers lots of online courses, depending on which program in which you’re enrolled. These courses are usually spread over a number of weeks, with a specific structure designed to provide you with the best instruction possible. The biggest challenge of earning a certificate or degree online, though, is having the self-discipline to make sure you complete all required reading and coursework on your own time. If you have good time management skills, though, online learning is one of the best options out there.

Gone are the days when you had to choose one road in life to follow. Online learning makes it possible to earn a degree on your own time. If you do have enough free time available to travel to a campus, honing time management skills and negotiating with your employer can make a big difference in reaching your goals. Work with what you have, and with enough determination and effort, you’ll be able to complete a program of study that will get you further in your career.

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