How to balance study, full time work & family life

Returning to study while working full time is possible, even with a family. Explore 8 actionable tips to balance your study, work and family life productively.

How to study and work full time: 8 tips for success

Are you considering postgraduate study, but not sure where you’ll find the time in between working and looking after your family? In this article, we’ll show you how to balance work, study and family commitments, while still making time for friends and fun.

You might be asking whether you can work full time and study full time. The short answer is yes, it’s possible to do this if you manage your time carefully. QUT Online also offers part-time study, as well as options to study Single Units and Micro Units, which are particularly useful for those with full-time jobs.

Here are our tips for balancing study with work and other commitments:

  • Use a scheduling tool. There are many study apps available to help you manage your time – your priority will be to set up a calendar system. Once you’ve blocked out the time when you’ll be at work or in class, you can then schedule specific pockets of time for particular tasks, such as completing an assignment or attending to other life commitments.
  • Set reminders for important deadlines. You can use your scheduling tool to send automatic reminders when your assessments are getting close, so you don’t get surprised by looming deadlines.
  • Divide large tasks down into smaller components. Say, for instance, you have to write a 5,000-word essay. You can make this task less daunting by breaking it down into smaller tasks, such as ‘write the essay plan’ and ‘find four pieces of evidence to support my main argument’. By allocating small portions of time for small tasks, you’ll eventually be able to get the essay done without becoming overwhelmed.
  •  Take a lateral approach to time management. If you’re particularly pressed for time, you might need to come up with creative solutions. Perhaps you could do your course reading while catching the train to work. Or maybe you could watch a lecture pod while you’re cooking dinner. As long as you are able to keep finding small ways to stay engaged with your course, you’re sure to make progress.

1. Study Online

Studying online while working full-time makes it possible to fit your study around your work schedule. At QUT Online, you’ll get the same learning outcomes from online study as you would from studying on campus. After your course, you’ll receive the same internationally-ranked qualification and testamur as your on-campus counterparts.

Our online courses are purpose-built for virtual learning, so you won’t be disadvantaged. The amount of time you’ll need to commit to your studies depends on how many units you choose. Units take 10 weeks to complete, and we recommend that you allocate approximately 12-15 hours per week for each unit that you study.

Your online classroom can be accessed when it suits you – rather than having to attend class at a set time, you can participate in your own time asynchronously. QUT Online students also have full access to campus services and facilities, including the computer labs and library. So if you want to attend campus to get some study done, or to participate in social events, you’re welcome to do so.

2. Take advantage of flexible work policies

When figuring out how to balance work and study, remember that many workplaces offer flexible working arrangements. If you’re able to, working from home will eliminate the time you spend travelling to and from work, giving you more time to devote to study and general life admin.

Another option for those working while studying is to ask your employer if you can adjust your working hours to better suit your study schedule. Some workplaces allow their staff to work unconventional hours, which can be helpful if you need to prioritise an assignment or complete a placement.

To find out if this is possible for you, get in touch with the HR department at your workplace to discuss your options.

3. Separate your study, work, and family environments

When you’re on a deadline to complete an assignment, balancing work and family is particularly crucial. Studying as a parent is challenging even at the best of times, but if you take things one step at a time, you can achieve your goals.

Here are some ideas for creating a separation between parenthood, work and study:

  • Establish a home study space. If possible, create a separate space in your home where you can go to study when the kids are asleep or at school. If you don’t have room for a dedicated home office, get creative: some parents have been known to study in the pantry, the garage, or the car.
  • Make use of on-campus childcare services. Childcare facilities are available at our Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses. This could give you some valuable uninterrupted library time.
  • Ask for support. If you’re struggling to balance parenthood and study, reach out to your loved ones and let them know that you need a hand. 

4. Do a trial run to find a routine that works for you

If you’re interested in studying, but not sure if you’re ready to commit to a whole course, you can dip your toe in the ocean by studying single units or micro units at QUT Online. This way, you can see how you go with studying while working full time, to decide if it’s feasible long term.

Single Units

If you’re curious about a particular area of study, you can study a single unit of our postgraduate courses. Available across several disciplines, the credit you gain from studying a single unit can contribute towards a future qualification.

Micro Units

QUT Online offers a suite of micro-units that can advance your professional knowledge, and help you develop new skills. A micro-unit can be completed in just over a month, making it easy to fit in around your other commitments. Credit points can go towards short courses you take in the future, and possibly towards a postgraduate qualification.

5. Make use of support services

There are several support services available to QUT Online students. We understand that most of our students are studying while working, and we’re here to help you if you ever need assistance.

Student Advisors

Our team of friendly Student Advisors are available 8 am-9 pm on weekdays and 10 am-6 pm on weekends, by phone or email. They can offer online study support, helping you with things like logging into your online modules, filling out forms and organising your study schedule. You can also reach out to our Student Advisors if you need help with understanding assessment criteria, submitting assignments, or referencing.

Learning Advisors

At QUT Online, each unit is led by an Online Learning Advisor with years of industry experience. They understand how postgraduate study can help with your career goals, and they’re here to help you get the most out of your studies.

6. Consider studying part-time

Many postgraduate students choose to complete their degrees by studying part-time while working. Most of our online courses can be studied part-time, which takes a lot of pressure off and can make the experience of studying more enjoyable. For advice about part-time study options, call 1300 104 196 to speak to one of our Course Consultants.

7. Look after your health

Above all, it’s important to look after your mental and physical health throughout your studies. Postgraduate students are, by their very nature, hardworking and ambitious, but don’t let your drive to succeed jeopardise your health and wellbeing.

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy work and study balance:

  • Schedule time for relaxation and fun. Whether it’s making sure you have a nice long bath every night, or keeping Sundays free from work and study, you need to create space in your life for enjoyment and rest.
  • Do some physical activity every day. Whether it’s doing 20 minutes of yoga in the morning, or going for a walk around the park at lunchtime, you’ll feel a lot happier and calmer if you move your body regularly.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water on your desk, to hydrate your body and stay focussed on your study.
  • Try to limit caffeine and alcohol. Easier said than done, we know. While it might be tempting to drink coffee throughout the day and a couple of glasses of wine at night, you’d be better off trying to limit your reliance on these substances, as they can, over time, leave you feeling rundown and sluggish.
  • Be kind to yourself. If you’re working, raising a family and studying, always remember that you’re a superstar! Everyone has their ups and downs, so treat yourself with kindness and remember that you’re an impressive human who has already achieved so much. You’ve got this!

Explore online courses at QUT Online

Our flexible online postgraduate courses make it possible to balance work and study. Take a look at our offerings and find the right course to propel your career into the space it deserves. 

Apply online to get started, or speak to our Course Consultants on 1300 104 196.

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Apply online by filling out our application form or speak to a Course Consultant on 1300 104 196.

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