Photos by Landon Pozernick
“BEEP BEEP BEEP!” screams a high pitch electronic noise. My eyelids blast open as I bolt upright. I slap the alarm clock on my bedside desk quiet and collapse my head back onto the pillow and stare at the display on the LED screen. It reads 5:30. My eyes roll back into my head. All that is running through my mind is “Why?”
I wrestle with the snooze button on my alarm while all of the wiring in my body boots up to finally accept the fact that I can’t sleep anymore. Eventually I find the will power to get up and shower. The icy water scares me awake every time. I know it’s coming, but every day I find myself standing in the corner of the shower balancing on one foot until the water warms. Then I get dressed and ready to leave the house. At 7:30 my day begins and my brain begins its fun filled journey of becoming a bowl of oatmeal. I have three classes to go to before I start my shift at work from 11:00 to 5:00. When I finally get home again, the last thing I want to do is open my textbook and do the hours of studying that my teachers tell me I’ll have to do to obtain a good grade in the class.
Many students have similar daily experiences as the one above. Ideally, if you’re going to college the only thing you would have to worry about is your studies. That’s not the case for most students. Most students also work part time, ¾ time or even full time. After speaking with several students on campus that work 20 – 35 hours a week I found that there are similarities amongst all of them. They all mentioned a lack of sleep effecting their studies, as well as a lack of motivation after work to study. Essentially if you have classes from 7:30-10:20 AM then work 11 AM - 5 PM then put in an hour of studies for each class you had that morning your putting in around 11 and a half hours of work and studies. That is equivalent to 57 and a half hours a week. That’s enough to get anyone stressed out and tired. I then asked these same students what they do to power through their tough schedules and strangely enough they gave me three basic answers.
Sleep is essential to remember things and staying focused. Have you ever gone to class on a few hours of sleep or even work? Falling asleep in class is just as efficient as not going. These students have found that getting around eight hours of sleep helps them cruise through their day with confidence. The key to this is just making sure you have a bed time. So figure out when you’ll wake up each day of the week and make sure you go to bed eight hours before hand.
Make plans and goals for each week. Use a white board and write down your work/study goals, and assignments on it. Make priorities and plan accordingly. Plan out an hour or two a day when you can study for your classes. Keep work and studies separate. When you’re studying, study. When you’re at work, work.
GET A ROUTINE
Make habits and stick to them. If you make habits things will become easier. If you want to run a marathon you’ll have to practice for it. When studying at certain times and sleeping at certain times become habits, it’ll become easier to manage your busy lifestyle.
These three tricks are field tested with the students I spoke with, and they manage to succeed with work and school. Finding a way to balance both of them is the trick to being successful.