Getting Back into a Work/Study Routine after the Holidays

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The holiday break can be wonderful. The end of the year is a time to rest, recuperate and spend quality time with loved ones.

Unfortunately, this also means that the holidays can be disruptive. For many of us, it’s often tough to get back into the groove of our routines once the calendar flips over to the new year.

For those of you who are heading back to a schedule that includes full-time graduate school, a combination of work and graduate school, or the time-consuming, deadline-driven MBA application process — not to mention your personal responsibilities — it can be especially challenging to establish the right rhythm. That’s why we’re sharing these tips and resources to help you balance all of your obligations and return to your regular schedule.

1. Create Goals

Defining a few specific, clear goals can be an excellent motivator, providing you with a strong reason to get back to a daily routine that encompasses both your continued education and your professional development. Grab a pen and paper (or pull out your laptop) and note down a minimum of three things you hope to accomplish this semester. Then define three additional, long-term career and/or school-related goals you’d like to achieve this year.

Once you have these goals documented, add at least three goals that are solely related to your personal life. Doing so will help you to maintain a focus on prioritizing yourself and your family in the midst of your other pursuits.  

2. Prioritize All Areas

Set aside time at the beginning of each month (and week) to prioritize all your upcoming tasks. This includes school-related tasks, professional tasks and personal tasks. Keep your written goals front and center during this process. Doing so will allow you to map out the steps to be taken to reach your immediate objectives.

Once you’ve outlined which tasks you’ll focus on in a given month and have assigned specific action items to each week, ensure you carve out time to focus on each one. It’s crucial that you separate personal tasks from school and professional ones and vice-versa. To help you keep your focus, designate specific spaces for working on school tasks, work tasks and personal tasks. For example, you may have an office at home that you use only for school tasks. Additionally, you’ll want to get rid of any distractions that may tempt you to procrastinate or cause you not to focus on the task at hand, such as hobby supplies, recreational equipment, personal screens (televisions, tablets, phones, etc.) and your workplace-issued laptop.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Health

Prioritize the two main components of a healthy lifestyle: adhering to a regular sleep schedule and a consistent exercise routine.

  • Sleep. It can be easy to fall out of your sleep routine during the holidays, but it’s important to get back on track and get the right amount of sleep each night to stay fresh, alert and healthy. Try to get to bed at a reasonable time each night and aim to wake up at the same time each day.
  • Exercise. Exercise and physical activity are great for keeping your brain active and helping you feel energized — and you’ll need excellent reflexes if you want to juggle school, work and life without letting anything drop.

Also set aside time each week to de-stress, and in whatever way that works for you. Schedule time to participate in the activities that energize you and maintain your health. Also, budget time to be fully present and live in the moment with your significant others, friends and family.

Work study 24. Tap into the Power of Groups

Organizing study sessions with a friend or a group of colleagues is a great way to get back into the groove. Just the presence of others can inspire you to dig in and really explore the subjects you’re studying. Moreover, that material can be better absorbed and understood if you discuss it and view it from different perspectives. At TCU Neeley, our students form a tight-knit community whose members support each other from day one until graduation and beyond.

5. Pace Yourself

Resist the temptation to dive back into balancing work and school without allowing for a small adjustment period. Rather than allocating four straight hours to study time during your first day back, for example, break that block into shorter study sessions spread over multiple days. Besides, staggering study sessions is a good habit to get into in general.  

6. Maintain an Honest Perspective

Be honest with both yourself and with others about your bandwidth. This means acknowledging and coming to terms with the sacrifices that may be necessary for the sake of earning your degree. Some activities will need to take a backseat while you’re focusing on the priorities you’ve set for this season of your life. However, do remember that these sacrifices are temporary. Once you’ve accomplished your long-term goals, you’ll enjoy new opportunities to get even greater enjoyment out of life.

Is getting an MBA an aspiration you’ve been putting on hold because the idea of balancing school on top of everything else seems overwhelming? No one said achieving that balance and navigating the new demands on your time will be easy. But going through that experience will teach you something invaluable. Having a strong “why” for getting your MBA is essential for putting those difficulties in the proper context — one in which all your decisions help propel toward your ultimate goal.

The team at TCU’s Neeley School of Business is always happy to speak with prospective students like you and answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact us via phone or email. We’d love to tell you more about our programs and help you take the lead on your personal and professional growth.

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