Planning or changing careers as an adult can be difficult without a solid plan and an enthusiastic cheering squad. However, that said with a little resourcefulness getting some adult education and going back to school is not impossible and is an excellent way to push yourself up the ladder or launch yourself into a career you love!
Making a clear plan should be the first thing you do one your road to success. Well executed plans will see you through to your eventual goal, here is some timely advice and steps to get you there.
Make Sure You Have a Set Schedule
The first thing to do is get a calendar going for yourself. Some people still prefer the written agenda while others use a web based calendar. Whichever one you prefer, make sure you set up the non-negotiable items first such as class time and work. Try to work out a set schedule with your boss or manager if you work shifts to accommodate course days and homework or assignment time. Make sure to place family obligations and activities into the schedule as well as your adult education. You can always use the drop-off and pick-up time with kids as extra study time if you need to wait for them.
Your Adult Education Plan
You need to build a routine and stick to it, however, give yourself a little flex-time for unexpected things that come up. Put in several adult education study blocks during the week that can be moved to different times if necessary.
Put your calendar up in a place where everyone can see it and ask for requests, so you aren’t bombarded with constant questions about where you are and if you can do something for them at a specific time. Make an online schedule if your family is techy so they can have their plans accessible as well. That way you also know where they are and they can make requests over the internet when you are in class or at work. That way there won’t be overlapping responsibilities or requests for your time. Make sure to put in when you would be able to take them to appointments or have space for some fun!
Make a weekly time that you will dedicate to family and friends. Don’t get so caught up in the day to day push that you forget to maintain your valuable relationships. Plan special events on long weekends or holidays so everyone has something to look forward to, and so they understand their importance. Showing value and love are of significance when it comes to spouses and children.
Talk to the school counsellors, adult education teaching assistance or a member of the administration team to find out specific dates such as when all your courses start and end. It is also critical to know when exams will be scheduled so you can map out extra study time around that event.
Last but certainly not least; make time for yourself. Don’t forget to make time for yourself. The work and adult education school balance can be a very fine line, and stress can get you down. Make sure you schedule a self-care appointment every week. The self-care appointment should be something that helps you to relax and something you enjoy. Some suggestions would be to book a massage or take the time to go to a Yin yoga class where you can unwind. Make sure you don’t forget about your happiness in the business of trying to get everything done.
Make Good Study Habits and Stay Organized
Organization is what transforms plans into reality. Make sure you have a clean well-organized place to work in, a cluttered work area makes for a cluttered mind.
Keep all your work material in a single location. Start all your work with ample time to finish so that you can review and make any needed changes. When doing multiple courses keep track of all deadlines and place them in order of date and importance.
Take plenty of notes when possible or ask the instructor to send you the presentation slides. Most adult education teachers are happy to share with eager students. Instructors will focus on the “need to know” for your exams as opposed to the “nice to know.” Make sure you catch up on any material you miss if you are absent from a class by asking a classmate that is happy to share.
Have a quiet, comfortable place to study where you won’t be interrupted. Set up a desk and chair with proper lighting and everything you will need for that period. Having to get up and down consistently will break your concentration and workflow.
Get rid of any distractions when you are working. Put your cell away turn off the TV, mute or shut down your email and log out of any social media. Let your family know that you are going to study and remind them not to ask you any questions until a specific time unless it is an emergency. The crucial part of studying is staying focused.
Revision of material should be done on a regular basis. Waiting until the last minute and then trying to review it all at once will overwhelm you. The other reason that consistent review is critical would be because it gives you time to book in with your instructor for extra help on the material you find challenging.
Stress Reduction Techniques
Don’t overlap work and school; stay focused on one task at a time. Contrary to popular belief true multitasking is a myth. Per scientific research, the cerebral cortex can pay attention to only one thing at a time. Therefore, when people “multitask”, they are just shifting their attention from one task to another rapidly which reduces the quality of work on both tasks.
Make sure you schedule in breaks so that you can return to work with a fresh view. Get up when you take a break and get the blood flowing to the brain, stretch out and get some water. You should take a break once an hour for 5 to 10 minutes. Set a timer on your watch or phone, so you don’t forget to break and time your breaks, so you don’t start to procrastinate. Avoid things that will suck you in and waste your time. Stay away from emails, social media and idle chit chat; you should schedule those in for a separate time.
Get active and stay active! Psychologically exercise is great for self-esteem and a sense of well-being. Physiologically it pumps endorphins into the body through neurotransmitters which have a direct effect on reducing stress. Pick your favorite activity and work it into your plan, this would be an excellent time to spend time with loved ones by going for a walk or run so you can motivate the whole family to move!
Get to bed early and sleep a full 8 hours if possible. Lack of sleep decreases your memory capacity, makes you inattentive and affects your mood. Sleeping enough will improve all of these which in turn reduces your stress levels. Don’t make all night study sessions a habit even if you need to on occasion. When you are tired schedule in a quick cat nap for 15 minutes to allow your brain to rejuvenate. Avoid caffeine even if it seems like a good idea at the time. Caffeine will affect your sleep patterns and invariably will give you an initial burst of energy but will cause a severe crash subsequently and also put stress on the adrenal glands.
Follow a nutritious food plan that is rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Studies show carbohydrates increase the serotonin levels which helps with relaxation. Eating fruits and vegetables contribute to a boost in the immune system which means you will miss less work and school. Avoid sugar as it also gives you a momentary burst of energy but will leave you feeling tired and lethargic. Refined sugar increases your blood sugar quickly which makes the body release insulin to decrease the blood sugar levels. The sudden increase and dip cause you to feel sleepy.
Remember to stay positive and keep your priorities in check. Don’t overload yourself, celebrate each task you knock off of your list. Working and doing an adult education school program is not for everyone; following these steps will keep you motivated and on track. Be realistic and prioritize what is most important to you. Try to remember why you started your journey and keep the prize in mind. Working and going to school will ensure you come out of the process debt-free and ahead in your career. Although it may seem overwhelming sometimes, stick to your plan and let your loved ones help you! With the right strategy, it can be done!
Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL
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