Managing a full-time career and part-time studies can be difficult. We explore how to achieve professional and academic success, and look at why upskilling yourself is worth the work.

There are some common challenges faced by students who work full-time. Among them are time limitations, study expenses, performance pressure and neglect of personal relationships. However, focus, discipline and strict time management will allow you to reach your goals, despite the stumbling blocks, says Shirley Nhlengethwa, founder of Focused Network, a non-profit organisation working to empower the youth through education, self-development, health and economic programmes. 

Providing enough study leave notice and openly communicating with your employer and team will also allow you to better manage work and study deadlines, she adds. In addition, you may soften the financial blow of furthering your education by approaching your company for assistance. ‘Some companies offer financial aid, if your course is relevant to the work you do and would benefit them long-term,’ says Nhlengethwa.

‘Remember, family is top priority and should never be neglected,’ she warns. Therefore, securing the support of family and friends, open communication, and scheduling regular time together are important. 

Also, welcome family support, such as taking care of the kids on weekends, and keep in touch with friends via technology, to free up study time, she suggests. ‘It is critical to set out a monthly work plan, to encourage commitment and help you to stick to your timetable,’ says Nhlengethwa. ‘Also, it’s very important to prioritise and focus only on what feeds your work and study goals.’

Nhlengethwa suggests the following strategies to achieve work and study success:

  • Set aside study time daily to tackle the workload in bite-sized chunks and reduce pressure.
  • Try studying in the early morning when your mind is fresh and there are fewer distractions.
  • Begin tasks and assignments early in order to keep on top of the workload.
  • Take advantage of technology to enhance your learning experience.
  • Say no to unimportant activities and avoid procrastination.
  • Get sufficient sleep, exercise and nourishment to ensure optimal performance. 
  • Stay committed and inspired by viewing challenges as growth opportunities.
Sam Paddock, co-founder of digital education company GetSmarter, suggests that you schedule a monthly review of how you performed relative to your work plan (GetSmarter partners with leading universities to deliver short online courses). ‘This will help optimise your time and you’ll complete your studies with new capabilities in prioritisation and planning,’ he says.

There are a number of benefits of upskilling yourself, says Paddock, including:

  • Improved skills to do your job better.
  • Greater potential for promotion, better pay and benefits.Increased respect from colleagues and friends 
  • A chance to be more competitive in an increasingly demanding workplace. 
  • An opportunity to reach your full potential.
  • Strengthened self-esteem.
‘Upskilling yourself is one of the best investments you can make,’ says Nhlengethwa. ‘Educating yourself sets you apart, better positions you in the workplace and helps unlock career advancement opportunities, while building your knowledge stimulates your thinking skills and gives you a competitive advantage.’ 

She adds that once mastered, studying while working can help you reach long-term goals and discover inner qualities you never knew existed. ‘When we stretch ourselves and move out of our comfort zone, we ignite possibilities and are able to explore opportunities that can then ultimately lead to our success.’


HOW TO BALANCE WORK AND STUDIES HOW TO BALANCE WORK AND STUDIES Reviewed by Jet Club on January 28, 2020 Rating: 5
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