In a nutshell: Realistic expectations, organization skills and stress management will help you balance work, school and life obligations. 

Are you thinking about going back to school and plan to keep your full-time job? Or maybe you’re already doing both but are struggling to strike a balance. Setting your mindset straight will go a long way, and there are a couple of tools that may help you feel less stressed and more in control.

Read on to achieve a better work-life-school balance.

Be Realistic

Having forethought is the best solution for managing your workload. Before accepting a new job or starting a new class, be sure you understand what is going to be required of you. A hiring manager can explain your daily responsibilities and a syllabus will lend insight into required coursework. Know your deadlines at work and at school – and map out when you plan to work on each project. That brings us to the next tip.

Use One Calendar

If you can put all your obligations in one calendar – whether it’s paper or digital – you’ll be able to take a glance and know what’s expected of you. Color-coding the entries will help you categorize them. In addition to deadlines, you should schedule chunks of time for completing work-related tasks and finishing coursework. If you stick to the plan, you won’t feel like you don’t know what to do next. If you’re finding you don’t have enough time to meet your deadlines, block out more time on your calendar. It’s better to finish with time left than to be working down to the wire.

Be Flexible

OK, you may not be able to predict everything that will happen at work or school – or personally – that will get in the way of your neatly laid plan. Because of that, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and be optimistic that you will be able to accomplish everything you want. It may be a setback, but you can analyze the new situation and make a game plan for completing the tasks at hand. Recognize that change is constant; you can’t control what comes your way, but you can control your reaction to it.

Deal with the Stress

It’s a tall order to pursue your education and continue working full time. A little stress should be expected. Believe it or not, stress can boost brainpower, increase immunity in the short-term, make you more resilient and motivate you to succeed, according to Health’s“5 Weird Ways Stress Can Actually Be Good for You.” But too much stress or long-term exposure does have harmful effects on your mental wellbeing and overall health. Eating healthy, exercising and meditating can help combat anxious feelings about balancing the workload.

Consider an Online Education

There are pros and cons to pursuing an online education over a traditional on-campus experience. And one of the benefits of an online experience is flexibility. You may be able to take self-paced classes, so you can fit them in on your own time, or sign up for shortened terms, so you finish your degree quicker. It also eliminates commuting time to class and allows you to travel freely for work if required.

It may be a challenge to further your education and career at the same time. But know once your degree is complete, you’ll look back and realize the time and effort you put in was worth it.

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