School, work, home – it doesn’t take long to get spread thinly between the major responsibilities of your life. Healthy habits are crucial to support that school-work-home flow that fosters academic, professional and personal success.
“The most important aspect is to ensure an appropriate balance between work, school and life — that is so, so important,” said Brandy McDonough, associate dean of instruction for Bryant & Stratton College – Online. “Being able to balance those things creates a much more well-rounded person.”
To do that, you’ve got to make the most of the time you have for each of those major life components. McDonough recommends meticulous, honest time management to keep on top of school, work and life in general. She syncs personal and professional calendars between computer and phone. She even carries a – gasp – paper version to keep herself on track.
“With that, it helps me to remain focused,” she said. “It really takes finding the time sit down and plan out each week. You really have to go day by day by day and say, ‘This is what I hope to accomplish’ and not getting down on yourself when you don’t meet that (goal).”
Another good habit: being realistic about your course load and how you work your way through it.
“The course itself is a determining factor,” she said. “If you have to take a course in an upcoming semester, it’s very important if that’s going to be a difficult course, then you might want to take only one or two courses. If you’re taking courses that all build upon your areas of strength, you could probably take a full course load.”
Be honest with yourself about your work habits. Do you need frequent breaks, or do you prefer to buckle down and complete a task without looking up? When your mind starts to wander or you’re not absorbing the material, that’s a signal that it’s time to step away from your studies.
“When you read something and you get absolutely nothing and you’re re-reading the same passage or sentence over and over again, or you get frustrated, that’s the time to walk away,” McDonough said. “Get a glass or water, take a short walk – stepping away for about 10 minutes and coming back to it from a different angle often is extremely helpful.”
McDonough recommends you start your study by tackling reading materials first.
“That will give you that theoretical foundation to build upon,” she said. “Before you complete a project, (or write a) paper, it’s really important to get that theoretical foundation first so you have that understanding utilizing a lot of resources.”
Understanding your full range of resources is another key to scholarly success, McDonough said. Beyond the digital world at your fingertips, remember family, fellow students, professors and the entire academic support staff at Bryant & Stratton.
“There’s nothing wrong with talking to peers, family members who’ve been through their education, working professionals as well,” she said. “Leveraging conversations with coworkers and peers those can be very valuable.”
Look to people who want to see you succeed to bolster your optimism and academic stamina.
“You have to have a very positive attitude and be surrounded by people who have that positivity,” McDonough said. “Have people you can reach out to on hard days – that’s healthy from a different perspective.”