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5 Ways to Juggle Online Courses While Working a Full-Time Job

Managing your time between online learning and a full-time job is not beyond reach. Learn how you can effectively use your time to perform well in both pursuits.

Not only is the global economy undergoing structural changes in the post-pandemic world, but it is also becoming one that requires regular upskilling of its workforce to keep pace. And, with over 13,000 professionals signing up for training opportunities under the SGUnited Skills programme, it’s evident how important continuous learning is.

Considering enrolling in an online course? The thought of juggling a full-time job and personal commitments alongside an online course may be challenging.

Online learning while sustaining a paycheque is a tedious activity, but it’s not beyond reach. Here’s how you can manage your priorities without dropping the ball.

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1. Plan your time realistically

The most vital resource you’ll have to manage is your time. And, it’s incredibly important that you do so realistically.

When planning your schedule for your job and online courses, be sure to factor in buffer time on assignments, tests, and even tasks at work. Re-evaluate your schedule every now and then to ensure that you’re using your time wisely.

Being ambitious is a driver, but it’s essential to keep tabs on reality. When projected timelines do not go according to plan, it can set off a chain of missed deadlines and cause unnecessary stress on your already tight schedule.

Planning too far ahead and for too many activities can also stretch yourself thin and take a toll on your mental health.

Protip: Use scheduling apps that synchronise multiple calendars, like Notion and Trello. This way, you have a complete overview of your different schedules, allowing you to see what needs to be done in advance.

2. Leverage the benefits of online learning

Online learning courses are popular for several reasons. They can be accessed anywhere and anytime, give you full ownership of your own learning, and can be completed at a pace you’re comfortable with. From remote learning to flexible lesson scheduling, take advantage of the features of online learning to make it work for you.

Protip: Are you an early riser? Work on your assignments before going to your job. Have a long commute home? Plan for some reading on the way back from work.

3. Keep communication lines open with your employer

It’s a good idea to let your employer know that you’re keen to enrol in an online course. Some organisations may offer to pay, especially if it benefits your professional development and positively contributes to business goals. Aside from costs, your employer can also support you in different ways.

Unable to stay late due to an assignment? Need some flexibility with your hours? Your employer is more likely to support you if they’re aware of the reasons why you’re busy.

Protip: Schedule this discussion during your review with your manager. By taking initiative to direct the conversation and take charge of your own development, you’re better positioned for a raise or promotion after completing the course.

4. Eliminate distractions to give undivided attention to your work

According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, “productivity is about navigating from a large constellation of possible things you could be doing, to the actual execution of a much smaller number of things each day.”

To truly succeed, you’ll have to give undivided attention to both your online course and a full-time job. This means focusing on your tasks and job without distractions. Eliminating distractions means you get more done in that same frame of time. You utilise your best resources to navigate between learning and work responsibilities more effectively.

Protip: Set up a separate workstation at home to segregate your area of work and play. Turn off notifications from your social media, email, and various other platforms.

5. Lean on your support system if you need to

Completing your online learning certifications while having a full-time job is no easy feat. It’s crucial that you recognise that realistic time and schedule management involves asking for help when you need it.

Protip: Inform your support system of your schedule and intentions to enrol in online courses. This can include your manager, spouse, and close friends. Having a support system to lean on will give you the confidence to embark on this journey, knowing that they are ready to step in to support you where necessary.

Learning is a lifelong journey. Embracing this philosophy will set you up for success, as you develop skills in demand and gain new knowledge that could prove useful for a flourishing career. Being able to juggle your priorities will also position you as a well-adjusted individual, ready to take on new challenges that come your way.

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