With the rise and development of online education in the past few years, it has become easier than ever to pursue further training while you continue to work. This has opened up the doors for so many. They can now further their skillset, retrain, or just pursue education for the joy of learning – all without relocating or quitting their jobs.
Attending a campus university is great for young people because it gives them a safe space to spread their wings, gain independence, meet new people, and, of course, earn their education.
Current working professionals, however, don’t need that grounding experience. They are usually well established in their current community and aren’t looking to move. Add in the fact that taking time away from your career at this stage can mean a setback in terms of wages and your efforts, and you have even more reasons to keep the status quo.
Now you can educate yourself, gain skills, and further your qualifications, all while continuing to either work full-time or parent full-time. No matter what responsibilities you are trying to work around, online education is there for you.
That does not mean it will be a breeze. Many, especially older adults who have had a few years’ break since they were last in school, struggle with the adjustment. Add in the fact that you are taking on two big responsibilities (or more) at once, and you can start to see where your routine, and therefore your health, may start to deteriorate.
If you are nervous about how you would actually go about juggling work and study, use this guide:
Start with a Degree Designed to Support You
There are many degrees out there that, even online, are intended to be completed with a full-time focus. These are usually going to be programs that are intensive. In nursing, for example, though today, many programs are available on a part-time basis, there are intensive options designed for dedicated commitment.
When it comes to these intensive degrees, however, there is a big payoff – you can graduate sooner!
If your goal is more “slow and steady,” then part-time education is the better fit. You can earn a degree part-time while working full-time or managing other big responsibilities.
There are so many reasons why you may want to continue to work. You may be a primary breadwinner for your family, or alternatively, you may not want to leave your role because of the strain it will leave. Healthcare, for example, is facing a shortage of nurses at the moment. Current nurses who leave, even if it’s to pursue their education, will be leaving their team behind with an even greater gap in skills.
The good news is that, regardless of your reason, there are options out there. RNs, for example, could complete this Rockhurst University online MSN-AGACNP program while they continue to help patients in their current roles. You will need to take the degree on part-time, which means it will take eight semesters to complete on average, instead of six.
You should always feel good about furthering your training, even if it doesn’t lead you to where you initially planned. Even in industries where roles are relatively straightforward and depend on what you are licensed for, there are options. Furthering your education helps give you those options and, at minimum, is a great way to invest back in yourself.
Improve Your Home Environment
We have all heard about how you shouldn’t work in bed or in the spaces you typically relax in. This has many merits. You can inadvertently bring stress into your relaxing spaces and find it harder to destress and decompress when you do have a break.
These spaces are also usually distracting in one way or another. They may be very comfortable and encourage you to snuggle in and relax. There may be a TV in front of you.
Minimizing distractions can improve your focus and ability to get work done. That is why one of the first things you will want to do when you commit to completing a degree like an MSN while you continue to study is create a dedicated study space.
Unlike other workers, nurses were there on the front lines throughout the pandemic. You might not have a WFH office set up yet, and that’s okay since it’s easy to make one.
To start, you will want a dedicated space. Consider buying a small desk that has sturdy support for the duration of your education. You will also want a supportive chair that encourages good posture to minimize aches and strains.
As for light, try to position your desk where you get plenty of natural light. You may also want to invest in a blue-white lightbulb to put in a lamp that you have on your desk. This blue-white light mimics daylight and, in turn, can help you feel more alert and focused.
Other accessories to consider include a Wi-Fi booster if you get spotty internet and a second monitor. Two monitors can make it easy to watch lectures or other videos while typing up notes. It also makes it easier to compare documents.
Improve Your Routine
A great degree and a stellar workspace are good tools to have, but if your body isn’t cooperating, you are going to struggle.
The good news is that there are plenty of different ways to improve your energy levels, your immune system, and your cognitive function.
Start with your sleep. Sleep is one of the easiest things to improve. All you need to do to improve the quality of your sleep is to consistently go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time. If you are struggling, try avoiding electronic screens a few hours before bed and invest in blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
You will also want to improve your diet. There are many foods that can help improve your ability to think, learn, and memorize information. Try to switch out foods that do not offer much in terms of nutritional value for these superfoods.
You will also want to exercise more regularly. Getting the blood pumping helps improve your mood and circulation. Circulation, in turn, works to boost oxygen flow to the brain, which will help you with your study goals.
Figure Out What Study Methods Work for You
Any role in healthcare involves a fair amount of memorization. Thankfully, there are many different memory tricks that you can use to make it easier to recall information.
The first is to separate your study times and take breaks. If you want to commit information to your long-term memory, then you will need to reintroduce the information again and again. Don’t forget to test yourself and challenge your memory with questions and games as well, so you get used to recalling the information and not just reading it.
You can use tricks as well to help you remember different things. Associations are a great place to start since they can be adapted to suit you.
The reason why associations work is that our minds are not naturally analytical. They don’t like keeping hold of facts without context. By adding that context, or at least something to spark your memory, you can improve your ability to recall information.
For example, if you highlight one topic in a certain color, you can then think of that color to help you remember information on that topic. You can also use acronyms or mnemonics to help you remember.
Similar to that tip is to rewrite content in your own words. Explaining concepts to yourself helps you understand the information based on how you think. It doesn’t matter if you use personal examples or other silly anecdotes to help you remember or understand, so long as they work.
When studying and learning, remember to engage as many sentences as you can. You don’t just want to reintroduce the same topics in the same way; you’ll want to vary them. Use visual diagrams sometimes to help you study and understand, and only text other times. Get mannequins or figurines to help you visualize parts of the human body in person and not just on paper. Create audio notes instead of just reading.
Engaging the senses and teaching yourself the same information using each sense is a great way to solidify it in your mind.
Do keep in mind, of course, that these are all suggestions. We all learn differently and have our own strengths. If you can, you should try to vary your efforts so that you touch on your different learning strengths. Try out the various memory tricks as well, and adapt them to suit you.
With these tips, you can learn better and actually commit that information to your long-term memory.
Commit to Your New Routine in Advance
New things are tiring! Our brain and body simply don’t know how much energy these new tasks take. In order to give yourself the best shot at success; you will want to establish this new health and learning routine at least one month before you start your degree. That way, you can smoothly transition and avoid the initial hangover feeling of taking on extra work.