It’s back-to-school season, a busy time for parents and for teachers. But the idea of going back to school isn’t just for kids and educators. It’s for anyone who’s been thinking about advancing their career.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s stressful enough to think about handling a full-time job and family, let alone jump into the land of homework, papers and tests. However, even with work and kids and life in general, it’s manageable. Here’s how you can turn this fall into your back-to-school season:
- Routines: As a teacher or parent, you know how important routines are for kids. They’re just as important for you. Dedicating a set amount of time each week to coursework will help you schedule the rest of week around it, ensuring you focus on what you need to get done. Use Sunday to prepare things such as meals and outfits for the week ahead.
- Goals: Set daily goals for the minimum amount of work you need to get done to stay on track using some form of calendar or planner. For example, when I take three courses in one term I know that usually means I’ll need to complete three discussion posts and three assignments per week. I try to complete one per day, which leaves me one day of leeway in case something unexpected pops up. Breaking up your typical weekly tasks in a similar way can also help spread out your responsibilities to make life more manageable.
- Maximize: Use every available minute. This means using the time you spend waiting for your kid at dance camp or in between loads of laundry. Taking advantage of these little pockets of downtime will create more time to get things done for school and your other daily responsibilities.
- Support: My family comes first, but they also support me and understand there are times I will need to focus on schoolwork. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like saying no or asking for help, but pursuing your next degree is worth putting aside your pride or guilt. Spouses, parents, siblings or babysitters can provide much-needed quiet time to allow you to focus on schoolwork without interruption.
- Prioritize: There are times you’ll need to make the choice to complete coursework over something else you’d rather do. It’s a short-term sacrifice with long-term pay off. Make time for you, your family and friends, but during the months of your program, prioritize your professional development to take advantage of learning opportunities offered by your instructors and fellow classmates.
There will always be plenty of excuses to not go back to school. But ask yourself: What’s your end goal for your life and career?
As an educator, I’d love to say my answer to that question is all about my students. That’s a significant part of it, but it’s also about me – my opportunities and my future. My professional life provides me meaning and fulfillment so I want to find a job I love, that allows me to pursue my dreams. If that’s also your end goal, know that it’s completely doable. The time to act is now.