Most of us choose to have a part time job whilst studying at university. Not only does it help gain a bit of extra money, having a job also helps develop soft skills such as communication and teamwork. Working is also a great way to spend some of your free time and make new friends!

Balancing full time study whilst working isn't easy, so here are some tips to help you make it work. 

Choose Your Job Wisely 

It’s important that you choose your job wisely. Is travelling one hour each way worth it just for a three hour shift? Probably not. Choosing a job that is close to where you live should be your number one priority. The shorter your travel time, the more time you will have to spend on other things. 

You should also find a job that allows flexibility. This way, you can reduce your hours during busy study periods and work the days and times that suit you. You don’t want a job that requires you to work the night shift every day. Likewise, be careful of the number of hours the employer expects you to work. This can change from job to job! If you are a student with a big study load, avoid signing up for a job that requires 20 hours of work a week. Something between 10-15 hours may be more manageable. 

For example, most university students decide to take on tutoring. Tutoring is a very flexible job, as sessions always occurs after school times. You can also tutor online, cutting down your travel time completely. 

You can also try and find a job that relates to your area of study. For example, if you are studying science, you might be able to find a job as a lab assistant. This way, you are also learning while working. 


Use a Calendar/Planner

When balancing multiple commitments, it’s not easy to keep track of everything that you have on. This is where using a calendar can be incredibly useful. 

In a monthly set up, you should list the days you’re working, as well as any major assignments or exams coming up. This way, at a glance, you know when to plan your study. Perhaps you have a huge assignment due on the same day you have a full day shift at work. In this case, you should try and get your assignment done 1-2 days before the due date. 

Start early! If you have something due later in the month, start it as soon as you have some spare time. 


Stick to a Schedule

If possible, you should stick to a schedule for work. This way, it will be easier for you to plan your study around work. For example, you might decide to work only on Monday, Friday, and Sunday mornings, and on Tuesday and Thursday you will have full study days. You should tell your boss the days and times you cannot work as soon as you begin your job. 

It’s vital that you schedule time for rest. You don’t want your daily routine to become work, study, and sleep! This will cause you to burn out quickly, which can compromise your ability to both work and study well. Block out this time in your calendar and make it non-negotiable that you do something fun (unless you reallllyyyy have something urgent you need to get done). 


Avoid Skipping Classes for Work 

You should schedule your work commitments around your university classes – not the other way around. 

Skipping classes for work just means you’re going to have more work to catch up on later, and there’s a good chance you’ll just procrastinate this. If they covered a difficult concept in class, it’s going to take you double the time to teach it to yourself. 


Don’t Overcommit and be Afraid to Say No

While it's important to be involved in extracurricular activities and work, don't overextend yourself. If you can’t take that extra shift, just say no! Especially if you work in retail, it’s likely that the majority of the employees are students just like you. A supportive boss will understand the demands of being a student – you are not the only one.  

To ensure that your boss will accommodate you, discuss your availability and any changes in advance. If you tell your boss the day before SWOTVac that you cannot work that week, they won’t be very happy!


Maximise Your Study Time – Don’t Procrastinate! 

Your study time is valuable, don’t waste it! 

The more efficient you are in your study times, the more chances you’ll have to take a break. 

Here’s an example. Its Tuesday. Let’s say you have a test tomorrow (Wednesday), so you need to study today. You also have work starting at 12pm today. You start studying at 9am. 10 minutes in, a friend calls you and you chat for 20 minutes. You then study for a bit, scroll on TikTok, watch Netflix, and get a snack. You then get back to study, and you get shocked to realise you’ve forgotten to study an entire topic. You must leave for work very shortly. 

You arrive at work feeling very stressed, and don’t do the work to your usual standard. Your boss isn’t very happy with you. 

As you can see, just by procrastinating, you’ve not only failed to study properly for your test, but you’ve also gone to work feeling very frustrated. 


Reflect and Adjust 

You should regularly assess your schedule and commitments. If you find that the balance is becoming difficult to maintain, be willing to adjust your priorities.  

The schedule that worked for you in first year is not necessarily going to fit your third year commitments! Be flexible and change it as you need. As you settle into your semester, you will better understand how many hours of work you can manage in the week.  

Hopefully these tips help! Another point is that you should make sure you are enjoying your job; you don’t want it to feel like a chore. If you do, it will be much easier to manage it alongside study. This way, your job will feel more like a break than completing another mentally and physically draining task.