By Haley Williams

It’s not easy to work full-time and commit to study. Studying is time-consuming and mentally draining and is probably the last thing you feel like doing after a long day at work. But, if you want to get ahead in your career without losing your income, studying can get you there, so here's how you can make it work.

Studying is an excellent way to fast track your career as it closes skill gaps and shows initiative – both attractive to current and prospective employers.

The good news is you don’t have to compromise down-time, family commitments or a social life when you take on study while working. If you choose a flexible, online course that flexes to your schedule, you’ll be able to priortise when it matters. Check out the ten survival tips below, and you can have the best of all worlds!

  1. Set Goals

Goal setting is an acquired skill. If you’re unrealistic, failure will lead to loss of confidence. You don’t want to compromise work or study so set S.M.A.R.T goals:

Specific: Know exactly what you want to achieve, whether it’s to study for ten hours a week or complete three assignments a month. But make it specific.

Measurable: At the end of every week, check that you have achieved your study goal. You need to be able to easily evaluate if goals are met and how successful you were.

Achievable: Your goal needs to be doable. That way you avoid missing deadlines at work. It also gives you a better idea of the extra time you have to invest in other activities that are important to you.

Results Focused: Have clear, distinct outcomes for meeting your goals, and hold yourself accountable.

Time-Based: Set a deadline for each goal (that’s achievable).

  1. Tell Your Employer

You should let your employer know you are planning to study and how you plan to handle it. Most employers will be supportive of study, especially if it benefits the company. You could negotiate flextime or reduced hours to maintain a study schedule that gets you through a course faster. Take advantage of programs like deferred pay and leaves of absence. If you spend time commuting, is working from home on some days an option?

  1. Time-Management Matters

If you enrol in a flexible, online course like those offered by Australian Online Courses, you can study the hours that best suit your work and lifestyle. There are no deadlines, commutes to classes or fixed exam times when you choose an e-Learning provider – you set the pace.

Be productive with your time and allocate set hours for study. Think of your study as a non-negotiable.

  1. Diet and Exercise

You need to put the right fuel in to manage work and study. Maintain a healthy diet, low in saturated fats and sugar. The type of diet that’s right for you is personal, but if you’re looking for one with a researched-based reputation, try the CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet, which is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

  1. Don’t Overdo It

Don’t be tempted to rush through your course in a desperate bid to finish. If you do too much your work and your results will suffer. This will undermine your confidence and lead to burnout. Make time for rest, exercise, work and socialising.

  1. Tech Study Buddies

There’s never been a better time to study than in the tech-age. There are apps to make the student life easier, from playlists to help you focus, apps that keep track of assignments, boost morale, enhance motivation and get you prepped for an exam. Simply Google “study apps”, download and stay the course with your studies.

  1. Focus - Turn Off Distractions

Avoid time wasters and eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone and other devices that suck energy. (Facebook? Netflix? Guitar Hero? You know what I’m talking about!). You can still have down-time, but just not on study time.

  1. Find Your Study Zone

We’re talking time and place. Everyone’s different. Are you a night owl or do you feel most alert in the morning? Plan to study when you’re most attentive and find a place that makes you most productive. Do you prefer solitude and quiet (home office or library) or noise (workplace or pubic space)? Find your study “comfort” zone for better productivity.

  1. Burnout and Stress

Don’t underestimate a good night’s sleep. If you’re sleep deprived you’re unlikely to meet work and study commitments. Being tired also leads to stress and can make you less alert – dangerous in a workplace. Set and keep a bed and wake routine. You can set the Bedtime alert in iPhone’s Clock app: it sends an alert when it’s time for sleep and wakes you up, for eight hours of sleep.

  1. Reward Yourself

Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself for all that hard work. If you have an incentive to stick to your study goals, you’re more likely to succeed. Maybe it’s a night out with your mates, a weekend away or that new video game; whatever motivates you.

 Haley Williams is a Content Writer for Australian Online Courses, which offers hundreds of online courses for your professional development with a dedicated student support team there to help you every step of the way.