Digital campaign copy: Seven tips for balancing work, family, and grad school

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Like it or not, there are only 24 hours in a day. Using them wisely is essential if you’re a grad student with kids and a demanding job. Here are seven ways to make the most of your time:

  • 1. Get organized: Gather school supplies and finalize childcare arrangements well before the semester begins. Less stress means more productivity when school is in session.
  • 2. Schedule smart: Avoid booking work commitments near school commitments. Request a few days off around biggies like exams and dissertation defense days, and ask colleagues for help if school and work deadlines are too close for comfort. Be sure to keep your loved ones in the loop as your calendar evolves.
  • 3. Study strategically: Save time and impress your boss by turning a work project into a school project, whether it’s a social work case study or a website redesign. Use smaller chunks of time (think bus rides and lunch breaks) to read assigned articles and outline short papers.
  • 4. Create a distraction-free study space: Find a quiet nook for hunkering down with your books. Minimize interruptions by placing your phone out of reach and using an app that blocks social media sites for a specified time period.
  • 5. Take care of yourself: Prioritize sleep, no matter how busy you get. You’ll retain more information and think more clearly. Plus, rest helps prevent illness and grouchiness.
  • 6. Lean on loved ones: Ask a spouse, parent, or neighbor to make dinner or watch the kids when you need time to focus — or recharge your batteries. Have your children help, too, even if it’s just sharpening your pencils.
  • 7. Communicate: Connect with classmates to study and vent about school, and find strength in friends by sharing the triumphs and frustrations of your juggling act.

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