Yes, it’s possible!
When I first started college, I didn’t think it was even possible to get a 4.0 G.P.A. let alone work full time while doing it. From the outside looking it, it looked nearly impossible. How can someone make time for work, school, and a personal life?
Here’s what I have to say, organization. Organization and motivation are key. If those are the only two things you take away from this post, the college and work-life balance is all about how well you stay organized when you are ALWAYS busy.
I am still a college student, who works full-time and I promise you can do it too. I have been able to keep up with studying, exams, homework, working 40 hours a week, and still making time for my fur babies. So really how did I learn to do all of this?
I worked on these 5 key tips in order to help me attain the G.P.A. I wanted:
- Get all of your tasks for the upcoming week written down Sunday Night to prepare for the week ahead
- Create a daily plan or a daily power list
- Set aside time each week for important tasks
- Make time to practice self-care
- Understand your reasoning behind why you want to do well in school, and use that as your motivation
Those 5 tips are what I use every semester to make sure I complete all of my assignments and do well at my job and still maintain a personal life. Here is a breakdown of each tip:
Getting all your tasks for the upcoming week written down:
The reason I listed this first is because without a plan, there is no goal. Correct? So, where and how do you put all of your tasks? There are multiple different options that you can create and prepare for the week ahead. If you like planners you can order a planner online or walk into a Michaels and spend hours in their planner section (like myself) and pick out the perfect planner for you.
There are also options such as digital planning, with your tablet or smartphone. You can use the notes within your tablet or smartphone to create lists.
My favorite has now become digital planning. Digital planning has become much easier for me the busier I get and carrying around a large planner plus a laptop and whatever else in my bag gets tiring. When it comes to digital planning, I use apps like Notability, Good Notes, Procreate, and the good ole’ calendar within my iPhone. These apps make it easier to have across multiple devices, just in case we have moments like myself that we forget our planners at home and don’t remember what was on today’s Power List. Instead, it’s right there on my tablet and phone.
Each of those apps offer a handwritten or typed option for to-do lists, planning and so on. I personally like to hand write my to-do lists. I will go into my Notability app and then open up a notebook, write down what the class is, and then create bullet points below of what needs to be done that week. I repeat this with every class.
Writing down your to-do list where it is easily accessible will help serve as a reminder and reinforce that the task needs to be completed. Either way, make sure you use something that you know you will see daily, and can’t forget that it’s there. Hence, why it’s on my phone and tablet since those two things are always within arm’s reach. Even taking a screen shot of your to-do list and saving it as your wall paper each week/ each day can help keep you on task and almost guilt yourself into not procrastinating what needs to be done.
Creating A Plan:
This second tip is also just as important as the first and goes hand in hand. You don’t have to go so in depth that you overwhelm yourself, but having a plan that includes some of your major tasks for the week will help you plan for the week ahead.
Having and creating a plan will help your day and week go by a bit smoother when you can visually see what is needing to be done.
Here is an example of my plan I had during Spring semester (prior-COVID):
- Have outfit planned/prepared for work every day the night before
- Have gym bag packed every night
- Meal prep for the week ahead and pack a weeks-worth of snacks divided up into equal portions in my car
- Pack laptop and school supplies the night prior
- Follow alarms (DON’T GET OFF TRACK)
- Do 2 classes worth of reading/ homework during lunch break
- Spend at least an hour a day at the gym before or after class to relieve stress
Now, you don’t have to be so strict on yourself to follow this list in a perfect manner. Actually, having a strict plan can become more stressful and you end up avoiding tasks because not dealing with it is easier that actually completing the task. Creating a plan will help you to visualize when the best times are to actually do what you have planned for yourself. It’s easier to change the timing of your plan and work around it rather than doing things sporadically.
When it comes to Power Lists, I am more prone to use these for work and personal to-dos. Power Lists should usually be no more than 5 items per day. Anything more than that is too much and you won’t end up following it. My power list usually consists of:
- Wake up on my first alarm
- Walk dog before work/school for 30 minutes each time
- Do dishes
- Complete scan/fax work for the day
- Go to bed at 9pm
These can be simple and to the point, and that’s exactly what you need when creating a power list. You need attainable and something you know you can complete every day. Each day your power list can change and that’s okay. Everyone has a different schedule, and different circumstances when it comes to their personal lives.
Set aside time each week for important tasks
Setting aside time each week in your planner, digital planner, or phone calendar is crucial when it comes to important tasks due that week. Setting aside time to do course work, studying is important when trying to maintain good grades. This is a mistake I made when I was younger and would always wait to do tasks last minute and became over-whelmed by them and ended up failing. When you set aside time to do the task prior to the due date/time you will feel less stressed when it comes to doing the homework or taking the exam.
Sometimes I even end up having extra time because I got through homework, or studying faster than I anticipated which allowed me to be more flexible with my schedule and my to-do list and maybe even getting other items done that weren’t on my to-do list for the next day.
Make time to practice self-care
This tip is important for anyone, any age, any circumstance. Setting aside time in your phone calendar, digital planner/planner will give you something to look forward to during your busy days. This past semester this was key for me to maintain a balance between staying sane and absolutely losing it on being so busy all the time. I made time every day for exercise, and practicing yoga.
Exercising for me was a relief from the outside world and the gym was the one place I could be in control. I also began yoga which for me allowed me to take some of those practices into my daily life and I started to carve out even 5-10 minutes a day to stretch and find peace within myself. If you’re someone who is extremely busy like myself, carving out 30 minutes a day can be exactly what you need to re-center and be able to carry on the next day. Here’s a list of examples you can set aside 30 minutes a day to practice self-care:
- Bullet Journaling
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Listen to an audio book/podcast
- Playing with your pets
- Spending time with friends/family
There are so many things you can do 30 minutes a day to take care of yourself. Just decide which works best for you. Gaining time with yourself or loved ones is something you won’t regret and will help to motivate you to complete your tasks for the week.
Your Reason Why
I know I keep saying each tip is SUPER important but they all really are. Having a reason, clear and definite about why you are in college will help motivate you during tough times. For myself, I want to prove to myself that I am worthy and capable of attaining good grades while working full-time. As well as, I don’t want to waste money that I work so hard for by not giving it all that I have.
At the end of the day, your college degree is something you should be proud of because not everyone has the ability to acquire an education. Find the reason why you want to do so good and write that EVERYWHERE you can see. Your phone, your tablet, your bathroom mirror, your closet. Being reminded every day by yourself of the reason why you do what you do will help push you through the fastest four years you can imagine.
Those tips are exactly how I managed to get a 4.0 GPA while working 40+ hours a week. I stayed organized, always had a plan, practiced self-care, and knew my reasoning behind everything I was doing.
Even if you don’t receive a 4.0 GPA, and maybe receive a letter grade higher than the last semester is still an accomplishment. Consistency is key when it comes to any goal. As long as you are proud of the work you’ve accomplished then no other opinion matters.
I hope this post helped you learn different ways to manage your time and visualize how you can accomplish working full-time and maintain a 4.0 GPA. Be sure to leave a comment below, and let me know if you would like to see more posts on how I stay organized at work, or in college.