This past year has been a new adventure as I started a PhD program in January (last year) in Behavior Analysis. You can find out more about that decision here 😉 Since then, a lot of you have been asking how to balance grad school while working full time. So I’ve put together 5 tips that have been integral for me this past year to conquer grad school while being a full time working mama! I am by no means an expert, but I am for sure someone who’s in the thick of it, so I hope these tips will encourage you to finish your program strong, or give you courage to start that program you’ve always wanted to. Conquer those dreams, lady!
Get a great planner – seriously. This is first on my list for a reason! When you’re juggling multiple schedules you need one place for them all to go. I’ve got Outlook for work and school, Gmail for personal and blog. But I love having one place, on paper, that I can have everything easily accessible. Enter the Simplified Planner. It is perfect & comes in a weekly or daily option – and fits in my purse so it’s always available! To add to the organization front – get fun school supplies! You’re going to need binder or file folders to keep some paperwork, so why not make it pretty? 😉
Make a schedule & stick to it. Don’t procrastinate. Schedule out reading time, assignment time, etc. along with work and personal responsibilities. Prep on Sundays for the following week. Most assignments will have recurring due dates (discussions on Wednesdays and papers or other projects on Sundays as an example, so plan accordingly). Every time I get a new syllabus, I write out every assignment, project, and reading in my planner so I don’t have to reference multiple documents throughout the semester. Everything gets a designated time slot and is divided throughout the week. That way, I’m not panicked on Sunday nights scrambling to squeeze in everything before midnight! Also, this way I can stack school work if we’ve got a date night or supper club planned so I can take those nights off and invest in those relationships. I’m a total night owl, so I take a break and focus purely on family time after I get home from work until after I put my little one to bed.
Have a designated work space – and make it your happy place! I’ve added in these touches to our office since I’ve always been the one who’s in there the most. The gold and girly touches inspire me and the core Auburn decor makes my heart happy and really focuses me in the spirit of academia. Find what inspires you and make your work space a place for productivity.
Audio books! Use your drive time to your advantage. Depending on your field of study, (mine is ABA) you will likely have a great deal of reading. But who says you can’t listen to it? There’s a lot of apps that will take a pdf and convert it to audio and there are lots of other texts as well. One great example is Natural Reader.
Use breaks between semesters to pamper yourself and REST. As in sleep. Like a full 8+ hours every night. Go to the gym – classes make it difficult to always meet your gym schedule during the semester, so make sure you focus on healthy exercise during your time off as well.
What tips do you have? I would love to hear your suggestions!