One of Pink Pig’s core values is lifestyle and we understand how important it is to be able to balance all areas of your life, work, family, study etc.
I’m currently studying for my Level 4 AAT qualification via a distance learning program using pre recorded lectures that I can access at any time.
So I’m here to pass on a few tips I have come across whilst trying to balance studying and working!
Seek Assistance from your Employer
Before you begin your course ask your employer what assistance they can provide, your new skills and knowledge will benefit them too. They are also going to want you to be able to balance your work and study successfully so that neither will suffer.
It may be that they might offer to contribute financially towards your study, or they might give you study leave before your exam to revise, there’s no harm in asking and you won’t know until you do!
Choosing the Right Study Format
First of all, when you sign up for that course, make sure you are picking the right study style for you.
Many courses these days are provided in more than one format, you might be able to go to a college in person and take a traditional class, you might be able to study from home and have access to pre recorded lectures or you might like to just have the books and go it alone.
Finding out which format fits in with your lifestyle is so important. I know many people who need the prescribed classroom hours to provide them with the motivation to keep going and the accountability, but you might find that regular hours would not work for you and you need to be a bit more flexible.
For this course I decided that classroom hours were not going to work for me, I needed to be able to fit my study in around my new job and the constant changes that small children bring!
Planning Your Study Schedule
Once you’ve chosen your course and you’ve got all of the materials it is worth spending some time planning before you dive straight in. Have a think about how many hours you realistically have available and are willing to set aside for study each week.
If you’ve got a full time job then this might just be a couple of hours a week, and that’s ok, I think it’s much better to plan in small sessions and keep the momentum rather than waiting until you’ve got a big chunk of time.
Also think about how long you would like to take completing the course as a whole. You might have a time frame within which you would like to complete the course so you are not dragging it out for longer than it needs to be.
When I started this course I made a plan to complete it within one year and I think I’m just about on track!. I would recommend allowing a bit of leeway, a couple of extra weeks here and there, and don’t be too hard on yourself if your schedule goes a little bit off, things happen! You might have a heavy week at work and just don’t have the extra brain space to study that week. I was planning to start my next module at the beginning of this year but then I got the flu! Life happens, don’t beat yourself up about it, pick yourself and carry on from where you were.
Take a look at the course material, they may suggest exactly how many hours each module will take so you really can plan in your calendar how many hours you’re going to spend on each one.
Take a look at the order of the modules too, for this course I decided to get the big module out of the way, and I’m glad I did! All of the others seem more manageable now!
Making Time for Study
Plan your study time when you have no distractions, for me, being child free is the biggest requirement! I just can’t concentrate when they are around so I wait until I have a couple of hours when they are at school or some time in the evening. I like to set myself up at my desk with a drink and a snack and a blanket so I am all settled and comfy before I begin.
Each time I sit down to study, I have a mini-plan of what I’d like to achieve. You are never going to complete the course in one session so I always think I’m going to do this chapter and this chapter and that’s it, I then get a real sense of achievement each time I study.
Once you’ve completed the course material make sure you leave enough time to revise. For me, I need an extra couple of weeks to go through every practice exam question I can find. Only then will I feel ready for my exam. Make sure you have exhausted all the revision resources you can find!
So, exam day has arrived, it’s time. You may like to cram in as much revision as you can right up until the last minute, for me this doesn’t work. If I am panicking just before an exam I find it very hard to think straight and I get unnecessarily stressed! You’ve put the hard work in, you’ve learnt the material, it’s all in there.
I like to book annual leave the day before an exam have a big revision session, just a rattle through everything as a reminder, but then the evening before I spend time trying to relax, have a nice bath and always paint my nails, if I feel good going into an exam then I have a little bit of extra confidence and the exam doesn’t seem too painful.
And once the exam is complete make sure you celebrate! Even if you don’t have the results straight away, completing the exam is an achievement in itself!
If you are listening to this and thinking, wow that all sounds like a lot of time, then yes, studying will take time and dedication but if it’s something you really want to achieve then you will find time to squeeze it in, And if you don’t have enough time right now then maybe the first step is just making a plan of when will you will start in the future, and work towards that!