April 11, 2024

How to Balance Work and a Training Program (updated)

Maybe you can relate. Life feels so full that you can hardly imagine adding one more thing. Between balancing your job and personal responsibilities, investing in a professional training program to advance your career often gets pushed aside.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case! It’s easier than ever to complete a training program while working full or part-time. With passion, determination, and discipline, you can continue your education and set yourself up for a bright future at any stage in life. Keep reading to learn how.

Working students are more common than you might think.

Balancing class with everyday life can be stressful at times; however, by focusing on the payoff, you can lean into this temporary state that will allow you to move to the next level in your career. Take encouragement knowing you are in good company. Many individuals are balancing the responsibilities of being a working student. These may be people who have a job, but want to train for a better career or someone who needs to work to afford career training. 

Managing life, work, and school will look different for everyone. Some may be finishing an assignment after the kids are in bed, others may be hitting class right after work, still others may be working on a simulation while having their morning coffee. You may find that you are a combination of all of these scenarios and more! What’s most important is finding the rhythm and schedule that works for your lifestyle.

Tip #1. Set Clear Goals.

Define Your Objectives: Understand why you’re pursuing the training program. Whether it’s for career advancement, skill enhancement, or personal fulfillment, having clear goals will keep you motivated.

Break It Down: Break your overall goal into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes it easier to track progress and stay focused.

Create Smaller, Manageable Tasks: Break down your overall goal into smaller tasks to make the process more achievable and trackable.

  • Identify Milestones: Divide your program into key milestones, such as completing specific modules or achieving certain grades.
  • Daily and Weekly Goals: Establish daily and weekly targets like reading chapters, watching lectures, or completing assignments.

Develop an Action Plan: Outline steps, deadlines, and resources needed to reach each milestone.

  • Use a Planner or Digital Tool: Schedule tasks and deadlines to visualize your plan and allocate time effectively.
  • Prioritize Tasks: Focus on high-impact tasks that significantly contribute to your goals.


Tip #2: Create a schedule.

Calendar on a smart phone

Scheduling doesn’t come easy to everyone, but creating one and sticking to it is the most effective way to alleviate the stress of balancing work and school. You have better control over your week and how you need to use your time accordingly to ensure all priorities are met.

To get into the groove of sticking to a schedule, start by outlining and prioritizing your to-do’s a week or two before class begins. Create a calendar that includes everything: work hours, classes, important deadlines, blocks for studying, personal errands and even scheduled breaks to recharge. Seeing it visually mapped out will also give you peace of mind of how everything will fit together, preventing overwhelm or confusion.

And just as you would schedule your work and school tasks, make sure you set aside time to relax. Taking time to recharge your batteries will ensure you will have the needed energy to finish strong!

Tip #3: Learn to be flexible.

Person standing on road with arrow markings pointing in different directions, decision making concept

Now matter how well you plan and schedule, life will throw you curveballs from time to time. You can’t plan for these disruptions, but you can learn to be flexible and resilient so you can quickly overcome them. Most importantly, don’t allow setbacks or challenges to derail you from progress. There is always something you can do! Be patient, give yourself (and others) grace, and don’t waste any energy on being frustrated or worrying. Neither of these will be resolved by overthinking the problem.

Instead, choose to focus your energy on finding solutions, no matter how small or temporary. Should you get sick, or your car breakdown, be ready with a solution as to how you might overcome these challenges while still fulfilling your responsibilities. Sometimes this means asking for help, other times this means planning ahead. Most importantly, remember your long-term goals and why they are important to you. A setback here and there should not cause you to give up on your dreams!

Tip #4: Create a dedicated workspace.

Cropped shot of digital devices, books, notebook

A great way to get the most out of your precious time is to create a space in your house that is set aside for schoolwork. Your space should be clean and well organized with enough room to spread your work out without being cluttered. A functional work space will look different for each person, as we all have different organizational styles and methods that work for us. What’s most important is finding the right tools and setup to meet your needs.

Make sure your space is comfortable. You will be spending lots of time here! It should also allow you to maintain good posture. Incorporate decorations that will help motivate you. This could be inspirational sayings, positive and encouraging notes, and pictures of family and friends. Finally, be sure to keep your calendar in this space along with any important papers or materials to support your classwork.

Tip #5: Take care of your mind and body.

Woman Self care

Furthering your education while simultaneously working full or part time takes a lot of energy. Living on no sleep, fast food, and energy drinks is a recipe for failure. Don’t let busyness cause poor habits in your life. While these may temporarily feel like they’re keeping you afloat, they will surely hurt you in the long-term. And isn’t the long-term what you’re working for?

Simply getting adequate sleep can make all the difference in the world, so start there! When you allow your body to rest it repairs itself and recharges for the next day. Pulling all-nighters is not sustainable, so prioritize sleep as the best recipe for success. Also give yourself breaks throughout the day and week! These can serve as motivation to complete your tasks on time so you can spend some time on a hobby, with family, or doing what you love. You may think breaks are a waste of time but these breaks actually make you more efficient with your daily tasks.

And just as you’re scheduling your work and school calendar, also schedule life tasks like stocking your fridge with healthy grab and go meals and snacks. Fueling your body also fuels your mind and mood. This will help equip you with the energy and focus you need to do your best work. Simply put, it is crucial to maintain proper nutrition to avoid burnout!

Tip #6: Find support and encouragement.

There will be times when your natural self motivation will not be enough, that's where family, friends, and colleagues can step in as “cheerleaders” to give you a boost. Make sure you have people in your life who are committed to walking with you on this journey. Going it alone is much harder, and also not necessary! 

Cheerleaders can come from a wide variety of sources: co-workers, family members, friends, and even other students. This may look like listening to you when you're frustrated, reviewing assignments, cooking you a meal, and giving you a nudge when you need it. Your cheerleaders can be there to celebrate your wins like getting a great grade on an exam or surviving a stressful week. And most importantly, these key people will help remind you of your goals, your worth, and your “why” when you need it the most.

Choosing to further your education while you work puts you in an amazing class of people. You are among a new level of hardworking, schedule-balancing, dedicated individuals who are learning that you’re capable of so much more than you may have thought possible! You can find peace and encouragement in knowing that this part of your life is only a temporary one, and can have a huge reward for your future. By putting in the time and work now, you can set yourself up for a fulfilling, well-paying career that will continue to open new opportunities. 

Most importantly, remember…you have what it takes!

It won’t be easy to accomplish. Balancing work and school means tightening up your schedule in other areas. But keep your eyes set on the prize at the end of all the effort! Growing your professional skills, enhancing your training, and earning certifications, while continuing to work full or part time, has been a necessity for many who have worked to get a better job by increasing their education.

And here’s the best news! There is ample support and advice to help you on your journey. NuPath’s Student Success Coordinators are here to set you up for success, answer your questions, and empower you with the information you need to make a decision. Don’t delay your future out of fear of the unknown. Let’s talk today!

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