Since I’ve been studying my Certificate III in Fitness I’ve discovered there’s a wide range of people doing the same thing. I’m always interested in how people fit study into their lives – especially when there are competing factors like work, family and children.
I’m still working the balance out when it comes to incorporating study into my life. But these strategies work for me and could help you if you’re a busy mum (or dad or just a really, really, really busy person):
PLAN YOUR STUDY
This is my number one tip. I block out Monday in my diary as a study day – no ifs or buts! I use an old school paper diary to plan my week and also mark out nights that I think I’ll be able to fit in an hour or two.
SAYONARA SOCIAL MEDIA
During planned study days I limit all distractions. This means no background noise, not answering my phone (unless it’s important), not checking social media once I’m at my computer and ignoring all household jobs.
GET A CHANGE OF SCENERY
This does wonders for my focus (especially if I’m ignoring all household jobs). When it’s practical I take my studying elsewhere. I’ve tried the library, a café and even a park (I made the rookie error of forgetting my headphones the first time. This does not bode well in a library it would seem).
HAVE A CATCH UP DAY
I schedule ‘catch-up’ days (at the time of writing this post I’ve planned one for next weekend). This week I have had competing work deadlines and I haven’t done the study I planned. The benefit of online learning is I can go at my own pace and it allows flexibility, but I like to feel like I’ve made small (or big!) achievements each week. This week I haven’t. I like to plan a day once a month where I take myself off to a different location (see above tip) and just do all those little things I want to catch up on.
EVERY LITTLE BIT ADDS UP
A big learning curve of studying with children is that there is no perfect way or time to study. I can have the best intentions, but throw in a sick child or an unexpected work deadline and plans get railroaded quickly. Whenever I get a spare moment I watch an online lecture, or I read notes, or I just log on and see what I’ve got coming up. I’ve even started watching videos when I’m making dinner or doing other jobs. This doesn’t work for all subjects or videos, but sometimes it does. You have to work out what works for you - every little bit adds up.
SET SMALL GOALS
I set small goals. I mean uber small. Tiny. Like ‘print subject notes’. These bite-sized achievable chunks are small, but ticking them off my list helps me feel like I’m on track and making progress.
GET SOCIAL OR GET A STUDY BUDDY
I haven’t found myself a local study buddy just yet, but many people swear by it. I use social media to connect with other PTA students. I ask questions about how they study and what advice they have. Just talking to someone else with similar interests and experience helps.
ASK FOR HELP
Studying online or from the comfort of your own home is great but at times I wish I could interrupt a video lecture and ask a question. I have utilised the help that PTA offers. It initially took me a little while to get used to the idea of picking up the phone or emailing PTA staff for help, but when I do I feel connected and on track with where I’m at.
BE FLEXIBLE AND KIND (TO YOURSELF)
Maybe this should be at the top. It’s not easy fitting study into your life when you’ve got work and family commitments. I have weeks where I think I haven’t done enough or that I should be moving through things at a faster pace (like this week). But if I take time to think about it, I know I’m doing the best I can with the time I have. I need to go easy on myself. Be flexible and be kind (to yourself)!