4 tips for how to balance your full-time job and earn a college degree without going overboard

By Taylor Brune, . student.

When I first began Arizona State University online, I was a full-time patient undergoing treatment for Lyme disease and many other autoimmune issues. I was working part time when I began my classes and knew eventually, I would be working again full time while going to school. A year passed and I was correct. I enrolled in Medical Assisting school on top of being a full-time student with ASU. That was by far the craziest choice I’ve made. But I was able to do it. Once I graduated MA school, I began to work full time in the medical field. This was the life I was working hard towards, knowing it would take dedication, consistency, and organization in order for me to truly succeed. I now work with a different company, but still full time. During the past two years of working full time while going to school full time, I have learned so many lessons that have helped me grow and evolve into a better student, and person.

The first lesson was: not to go overboard and burn myself out.

I am someone who is driven by their purpose and because of this, I am very driven to achieve greatness in my life. But sometimes I lean towards burning myself out, especially since I still manage autoimmune diseases in my body, which tires me out even quicker. The thing is, I never let that challenge hinder me or prevent me from going after my goals. The thing is, even when I have been sick, I still show up to my job and my class exams. Learning to find a healthy balance where I didn’t burn myself out to the point of getting very sick or not having any motivation left, has been a challenging lesson to learn. With ASU I had an advantage through managing my work, my health, and other activities-I had the freedom to create my own school schedule because of being an online student. Because of this, I learned by trial and error, how to effectively schedule my days with my top priorities, so that I would never submit a late assignment in my entire academic career. Even on days I went into the ER, because I plan my school assignments ahead of time, I had wiggle room to take care of myself while still managing my grades. Concerning working full time while going to school-it’s important to take breaks to reset your brain. Going from working all day to schoolwork, there needs to be a space where you can take time to reflect on what you need to re align yourself in energy and motivation. Taking breaks to balance out my responsibilities has been a game changer in preventing burnout.  

The second lesson was: have set days a week where you can work on schoolwork.

One thing I value most in my life is my relationships with my loved ones. Most of my loved ones are mainly available on weekends, so I decided to make sure I set aside my weekends time for myself and time for my loved ones. This means staying dedicated during the week, Monday through Friday, doing schoolwork, so that I get my weekends to refresh from work and from school.

The third lesson was: meal prep to create more time for productivity.

During the week going from work to school to the many other activities I have signed up for. It gets tiring. And when I get home, I honestly don’t have the energy most days to cook a full meal and even wait for it to be done cooking. So, over the weekend, usually Sundays, I do my grocery shopping and prep my food so that during the week, I can easily access it and create a healthy balanced eating schedule.

The fourth lesson was: have grace with yourself.

One of THE BIGGEST lessons I have learned in my life is to simply have grace with where I am at, and where I am going. To have grace in times of stress, confusion, and discouragement. Working full time brings up stressors, as well as going to school full time. There will be days where everything is not perfect, and I do will feel off. During these times, I have learned it is important to accept how I am feeling and feel the feeling, and then let it go gracefully. I am someone who is too hard on themselves for basically everything. And this can be toxic to growth, success, and happiness. It’s important to know you are doing the best you can, where you are, at this time. You are where you are supposed to be. You are making a difference in work and in school and the impact you will make in this world, is going to be worth all the days where it feels discouraging and darker.

Knowing these lessons for this academic school year, I have found I do not cave into my stress and I am able to handle school and work gracefully and joyfully. Knowing how to take care of yourself while taking care of your responsibilities is key to success and fulfillment.

You can follow Taylor on Instagram: @hearts_in_bloom. Feel free to reach out her at: www.heartsinbloom.life

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