7 Tips to Help You Balance Work and School

7 Tips to Help You Balance Work and School

by Erin Pettus

1. Tap Your Support Network

Your support network is made up of the people who are in a position to help you get your degree. Your support network might include your family, friends, significant other, children, and your fellow students.

A group of students that enter a program together are called a cohort. Often, these students will follow a similar education track and complete the program around the same time. Your cohort might have a mixture of traditional and adult students, but it’s ok to seek out those who are balancing work and school, just like you.

Your family may be able to offer support at home by maybe taking on more domestic tasks, but your cohort at school can offer support in the form of resources and empathy as they’re going through the same experience that you are. Build your support network to include as many people as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.

2. Manage Your Time Well

When you’re looking for balance, one of the biggest questions you’ll want to answer is how much time you can devote to what tasks. One of the most important aspects of time management is knowing yourself and scheduling time to study at your most efficient work hours. This might mean staying up later than normal or getting up early on the weekends to get in your study time. Time blocking is one technique that helps you to prioritize your to-do list, and honestly scheduling the time necessary for each task at the best time of the day.

If time blocking is just a little bit too much for you, consider creating a weekly and monthly schedule. A weekly schedule will focus on the details of how you spend your time and a monthly schedule will be more broad, letting you plan ahead for weeks that might be busier than others. We’ve also put together a list of study tips to help you use the time you have efficiently.

3. Talk to Your Boss

We understand that this might be intimidating, but the sooner you inform your boss that you’re going back to school, the more willing they will probably be to make accommodations. Letting your boss know that you’re going back to school will allow them to be more understanding of your elevated stress and work levels. You might even be surprised—many bosses want to help their employees go back to school, or may be in a position to offer a promotion once you’ve earned your degree.

You can also more easily balance school and work by taking time off during high stress times at school. As soon as you receive your class syllabus, look ahead to when midterms and finals will be. If you can take time off from work, try to schedule it around those high-stress time so your school stress won’t affect your performance at your job.

It might sound extreme, but you might also want to consider finding a flexible job when going back to school. A job with a flexible schedule, or one that’s part time, might make it easier to go back to school and manage your time.

4. Streamline Your Tasks

Streamlining your tasks will make it easier to get everything done. Consider this example: when you run errands would you prefer to get five items at 5 different stores or five items at one store? You’d pick one store, right? It would save you time and money spent on gas. Think of your work for school and your job like that.

If you have to do a project for school, can you make it about something at work so that you’re working on both at the same time? Maybe you can implement new skills that you learn at school while at work. Instead of keeping your work and school lives separate, let them integrate and make your time use more efficient. You might also consider doing homework on your lunch break or keep your school materials in your car so you can go directly from work to the library to study.

5. Optimize Your Tuition

There are many options for aid when paying for school. There are scholarships, grants, loans, and employer tuition assistance. For most students, loans should be the last option as they’re very expensive to pay back.

When applying and choosing your school, look for a school that gives you the most benefit for each dollar you will spend. We’re not recommending that you choose the cheapest school, nor are we saying the the most expensive schools are the best schools. What you want to look for is a school that will give you the biggest benefit for the money that you will spend.

6. Consider Online Classes

Online classes can make going back to school so much easier while working full-time. Most online courses give students the flexibility to work when they can, not have to show up at a certain time in a physical location (or commute!). Some online courses even offer self-paced classes, allowing students to start and stop when they need to. Be sure to look for online classes that will fit your learning style.

7. Love What You’re Studying

One of the easiest ways to find the time to balance work and school is to choose to study something that you love. If you love your classes, the homework, and your new area of study, then you’ll be more motivated to put in the necessary time and prioritize your school work over distractions. You might be surprised just how motivated you can be by doing something that you love.

We hope that these tips will help you to find balance in your life and be able to more easily manage going back to school while also working. This is one of our favorite topics to talk about so be sure to check back on our blog to see more great content just like this.

 

7 Common Communication Blunders

7 Common Communication Blunders

Have you ever said something at work you wish you hadn’t? Sometimes the wrong words just blurt out to employees or with the client. The first step in fixing common communication blunders on the job is to know what those blunders are. Then you can say something the smart way and not the dumb way.  Verbal communication expert, Greg Alcorn, CEO of Global Contact Services (GCS) of Salisbury, NC, is the author of 7 Dumb Things We All Say and speaks to thousands of people each year on improving verbal communication at work.

 

BELOW, GREG HAS LISTED THE SEVEN BIGGEST BLUNDERS YOU MAY NOT HAVE USED, BUT HAVE DEFINITELY COME ACROSS!

ONE:  Using Bad Bookends. The biggest blunder is starting and ending what you say with the wrong phrasing. Conversation bookends are the small comments or questions just before or right after a full statement or request for action. Be better with your starting and ending bookends. Pre-sentence bookends as a tool can be engaging, demeaning, or distracting. Names are great bookends. Starting a sentence with the name of the person you are talking to warms that person up. “Mary, may I put you on hold?” Saying your name last in your introduction makes it easy for the person you are talking with remember your name. “This is the help line; my name is Jack.”

TWO:  Starting with Wrong First Words. Are you familiar with the adage, “Getting off on the wrong foot”? Conversations have first impressions, and they begin with your first three words. Hint: one of the words should be the other person’s name. Using names is important when speaking on the phone, especially conference calls. Conference call principle number one is if you’re going to call on somebody, start with the name. Instead of saying, “What were the metrics on our operations yesterday, Frank?” ask the right way: “Frank, what were the metrics on our operation yesterday?” If you don’t start with the name, you might catch the person by surprise. It certainly catches people’s attention when you say their name first.

THREE:  Not Choosing Your Words Well. The words you choose paint a picture for the listener. Your words express your attitude and your personality. Keep it positive. Don’t start a sentence with the word “no.” Even in introductions, you can’t go wrong with saying the person’s name first. A person’s name followed by the four words “I need your help” is a winner. “Rachel, I need your help.” This is especially powerful when it’s in a situation in which you might be the boss and the other person might be a manager, or you might be in a perceived superior position.

FOUR:  Poor Questions and Bad Listening. Meaningful questions always stay on subject, keep a conversation moving forward, and ensure the other person feels heard and understood. Becoming a better listener is easier than you might think. It starts by committing to be a great listener and making an active choice to listen. Ask good questions and really listen. This is the “You have two ears and one mouth” principle.

FIVE:  Focus-on-Me Attitude. Making it all about you is a turn off for them. This is not a technique; this is an attitude. The best way to describe a benefit is to describe the feeling received. “I came by as soon as I heard you lost the sale; I’m sad.” The fellow employee can recognize the extra effort and surely appreciates the sentiment. It’s a powerful sentence. A special visit, a sense of urgency, and a sincere feeling (sad). Empathy shows feelings.

SIX:  Wrong Tone. People feel more comfortable with pleasant, variable tone quality. Voice tone is made up of rate, pitch, and volume. Think tone and don’t drone. The tone of our voice helps others to hear our empathy. The rate, pitch, and volume of our statements of empathy helps express feelings. Usually, but not always, we hear implied empathy when somebody slows down speech and lowers the pitch and volume. Say, “I am sad to hear that you lost the supermarket account,” and I’ll bet you will automatically say it slow and low. The same with excitement at the opposite end of the spectrum. Say “Team, we won the hotel account!” You can’t help but say it fast, high, and loud. Tone expresses empathy.

SEVEN:  Not Diffusing Difficult Drama. Stressful conversations, or drama, can be avoided by mastering word selection, listening, and questioning skills. Drama can be inevitable, however. Most stressful situations can be defused when you apply the three Rs: recognize, restate, and reassure. Ask others: “What would you like to see happen?” Those are seven magic words that can defuse difficult drama: Words are just a tool, like electricity is a tool. And like any tool, they can be used for helping or for harming. Electricity can cook a person’s dinner, or it can burn a person’s dinner. Words can turn people on or turn people off.

Here is the bottom line: Nobody wants to say dumb things. But we all do. The first step towards reducing the number of dumb things you say is to know what the dumb things are. Then don’t say that, say something smarter.

 

7 Steps to Prepare for Your Job Interview

7 Steps to Prepare for Your Job Interview

You have finally secured the coveted job interview, so what happens next?  Here are 7 steps to help you prepare.

 1.  Pick your outfit

What you wear on your interview is an absolutely crucial part of how to prepare for a job interview. After you choose your outfit, make sure it is cleaned and pressed and you have the appropriate accessories and shoes to go with it. It doesn’t hurt to try the outfit on ahead of time, just to make sure everything fits and you look great. Then put your outfit aside for the day of your interview and have it ready to go. Now that you have this crucial step out of the way, you can concentrate on the rest.

2. Practice greeting your interviewer:

You should always greet your interview with a friendly smile and firm handshake. If you do this right, you will set off the right energy and the chances of the interview going well will increase. This is a small and simple step that you should always to do to prepare for your interview

3. Study your resume and know everything about it:

Any work experience or skills you have listed on your resume are fair game to talk about during the interview. Your resume is all the interviewer has to go by in order to get to know you. They may pick things out from it and ask you to elaborate. Even though you may have a previous job listed that was many years ago, the interviewer may ask you to explain what you did at that job and you are responsible for providing an answer. This is one step you absolutely won’t want to skip on how to prepare for a job interview.

4. Practice your answers to the most common interview questions:

If you don’t know what these are, do your research and find out or see one of my other articles. You’ll want to have your answers ready and practice them. You should always be able to answer “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you think you would be great for this job?” The employer doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to sell it.

Don’t completely memorize your answers so they come out rehearsed, but have a clear idea of what you are going to say. When you are asked, you want your answer to come out intelligently and natural. Be open to other questions as well and really know what you can offer to the company.

5. Research the company and the job position you are applying for:

Write down any questions you may have about either so you can ask during the interview. If there any requirement of the job that you are unsure of, you should definitely ask during the interview. It always looks nice when you go into an interview with intelligent questions. It shows you put effort into preparing for the interview. However, never ask questions just to ask questions. The interviewer will see right through that. Your questions should be genuine and relevant.

6. Find out the type of interview you will be going on:

There are several common types of interviews such as one on one, group, and behavioral. You shouldn’t assume you will get a certain one. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what kind of interview will have if you don’t know – the interview will be more beneficial to both parties if you are prepared.

7. Print out the directions to the interview and be on time:

Allow enough time to get there and anticipate traffic. It’s ok to be up to 10 minutes early, but no more than that. Otherwise, the interviewer may not be ready for you. Bring the phone number of your interviewer just in case you get lost or are going to be late. If you are going to be late, call to let the interviewer know.

Follow these tips and you will successfully know how to prepare for a job interview. Interviewers can tell whether or not a candidate has prepared for it or not and they will appreciate it if you did.