Hi friends! I hope you had a nice weekend 🙂 Mine was great! I have a lot of photos to share from our time on the Eastern Shore, but I probably won’t get around to writing the recap until later this week (my Human Anatomy & Physiology II class ends on Wednesday and we’ve got homework and tests to finish!) In the meantime, you can check out my instagram for some photos and this hilarious video.
A few other things: you have until tomorrow at 12AM to enter my very first giveaway (a S’well Water Bottle!) in celebration of Just a Pinch turning 1! Also, I head to Seattle in exactly a week to look for an apartment, so please pass along any restaurant recommendations before I go 🙂
Today, I want to talk about some strategies I use to balance my time as a part-time student and fulltime employee. One of the most common questions I get asked is: how do you have time to do everything you do?! ←Flattering, but I have a lot of room for improvement!
Alas, because a few of you are curious, I did my best to shed some light on the topic. I’ll preface this post by saying that I have nothing ground breaking to share. If only there was a way to make time stand still 😉
How to create more time
Here’s the catch: there is no way to create more time; there are only strategies to make sure you put in the time necessary to do well in your classes. The harsh reality is that this involves sacrifices; most often, it means turning down social gatherings, weekends away, etc.
By far, this was the hardest adjustment as a part-time student. I am an incredibly social person, and I thrive off of social engagement. I also believe in enjoying my life, so I found it really hard to say no to social events because I always try to live by the mantra: we only live once!
It took a semester of difficult classes for my mentality on this to change. For awhile, I really thought I could do it all. But, as soon as my course grades started to slip, I not only learned how to say no, but I also learned to decline without regrets. I made the decision that my schoolwork was my top priority, period.
Now, I don’t want to give off the impression that I didn’t have any fun, because I definitely made time for it! I took trips, went to weddings, met friends for drinks and coffee, but for the most part, I reserved all that fun for weekends.
Depending on whether I was taking an online class or a class in person, I always set aside specific nights for studying (blocking it off on my google calendar!) Unless there was an emergency, nothing else could override those spots. ← (Also, a big shout-out to Alex, who has been my #1 supporter through all of this. We rarely get to spend time together on the weeknights (despite living together) and I couldn’t get through my insane schedule without his patience and understanding.)
How to use your time wisely
Recognizing your personal learning style is going to help you tremendously as you learn to maximize the limited time that you have. I learned that I do best in the classroom because I am a visual learner. I took this concept and applied it to my note-taking, which really helped with studying.
For example, I bought colored pens to help separate concepts in my head, and I use colored highlighters to designate things I need to know for the exam (highlighting terms in green, but definitions in orange, etc.)
I also learned that I retain information best when I’ve been exposed to the material at least once before lectures. This means that I prioritize reading the chapters before the lesson instead of after the lesson. Again, this has to do with visual learning – if I’ve seen the concept once, it’s much easier for me to visualize and remember that concept when the instructor introduces it to the class.
Find a productive study environment
Where you choose to study is going to impact your study success. If you find yourself doing laundry, munching on snacks, or getting distracted at home, don’t study at home. Spend a solid two hours at a coffee shop or library and commit to focusing only on your work at hand. When I was intentional with my time, I was able to accomplish much more.
I found that the best place for me to study was outside of the house, at a coffee shop. I liked being surrounded by people (← there’s that social side of me coming out!) but stuck my headphones in my ears to drown out the noise.
Understanding when there just isn’t enough time
There were a few tests that I didn’t study enough for – that is inevitable! However, I made sure to understand the difference between not studying enough because I prioritized a fun event instead of work, and not studying enough because I just didn’t have the time. Instead of beating myself up over a C on an exam, I reminded myself that I’m doing the best that I can. I am already under enough pressure from all the other commitments in my life, I don’t need to add to it!
You learn how badly you want it
Eventually, I learned that the events I passed up and the opportunities that I missed all opened the door for my greatest opportunity to date. As I powered through, I remembered that the night/weekend classes, grueling study hours, and late nights all meant that I was one step closer to achieving my dream.
Taking a break
This is my most important piece of advice: take a break. No one can sustain a schedule of all work and no play. The soul needs laughter, good friends, family time, long walks, sweaty workouts, home-cooked meals, Netflix, and vacations.
On days when all you want to do is be outside, go outside! By scratching that itch, you’ll be able to clear your mind and focus on school.
I hope you found these tips helpful and as always, please share your tips below!