Studying AND Working? Here’s How to Balance Test Prep With a Full-Time Job
Whether you’re a financial analyst seeking CFA certification, a paralegal studying for the LSAT, or an aspiring MBA swimming in GMAT books while working toward your 10,000 hours, you can relate. Preparing for standardized tests while continuing to propel your corporate career can seem virtually impossible. Have no fear. I conducted interviews with successful professionals who have gone through the process of studying for exams while holding down full-time jobs. Here are 10 life hacks that may help those of you who are experiencing serious burnout.
1. Talk to your manager: Often, employees are hesitant to alert their bosses of test prep, in fear of raising alarm that they are soon to depart. But you must remember that any certification which improves your expertise is ultimately positive for your company. It’s also much harder to embark on what will be a difficult schedule without evoking sympathy from your manager. You need some leniency from coworkers when it comes to your availability.
2. Make sacrifices: Your phone should be in airplane mode during study hours. No texts, no social media. Manage expectations with your close friends and family before your process begins. Tell them which study hours are off-limits ahead of time.
3. Rise early: Catch your mind while it’s still a clean slate. Study early in the morning, before the pressures of the work day have hit. Very few professionals admit to being “morning people,” but most agree that a demanding work schedule makes studying after leaving the office too difficult to sustain.
4. Cut the booze: Most of those surveyed for this piece suggested limiting yourself to social outings one night a week. Alcohol can be a stress-reliever, but it also affects your ability to sleep well, which is much more important. Try to align your drinking schedule with your one night a week. Partying with friends will seem like much more of a treat, and something you can look forward to. But be careful not to go overboard. You’re certain to be a lightweight on your new schedule.
5. Hibernate: Those polled for this article stated that it’s always best to choose a test date that accommodates a winter studying schedule. Spring and summer days are when you’ll be most restless and eager to get out and socialize. While the weather is cold and dreary, you might as well stay in and be productive.
6. Stay consistent: Stick to your schedule. Any semblance of constancy will make you feel more secure in yourself, and your ability to stay disciplined.
7. But switch it up: At least one day a week, choose a location that’s not your home or office to get some studying done. Try a local library or quiet coffee shop. A change of scenery will do you some good by resetting your mind.
8. Stay positive: Always keep the end in sight. Write a list of your long-term goals, no matter how lofty. Post them above your desk at home or on your fridge. Draw daily motivation from a constant reminder of how your life will look once you’ve achieved the ideal score. And don’t forget to celebrate your “wins” after practice tests, big or small!
9. Be realistic: Before you outline your goal score, you need to know where you are. Take a diagnostic test before beginning the process so you have a bench-marked idea of how much improvement is needed, and in which sections of the test. Write it down, and keep it someplace you’ll remember. Even when you’re not reaching your goal score, seeing how your marks improve over the weeks and months will give you the added ego boost you need.
10. Prioritize your health: Get sleep. Eat clean. Exercise regularly. This much is non-negotiable. Your brain needs fuel to multi-task, so give it all the support it needs.
(This was originally published on LevoLeague by Arielle Patrick, photography by Sam Teich)
Are you currently working full time and pursuing an academic achievement? How do you manage both? Share you secrets with us in the comments below.
Your relationship with your finances is one of the most important relationships you'll ever have, and you can't avoid it. That said, for many of us, the pandemic only added to our financial stress. If you find yourself feeling frazzled, just remember that financial insecurity isn't a net-worth issue — it's a mindset issue. And, we happen to have plenty of advice on how to turn your money mindset around so you can take charge of your funds once and for all.
To start, feeling secure begins with a strong foundation, and there's no better time than now to get started stacking the bricks. It's easy to get swept up in the January "new year, new me" mentality, but really? Any time is the right time to get yourself in order. You don't need to wait for a new year, a new moon, the right moment, or a sign from above. You don't even have to start on the first day of the month — you just need to start.
Introducing NerdWallet: A Safe and Reliable Money App
To help with that, we've put together a list of the just-right-for-you ways that NerdWallet can help you monitor your financial outlook. Haven't heard of them yet? NerdWallet is a personal finance company that helps consumers make smarter financial decisions. Their website and app let you compare different financial products, find articles and tools to make financial decisions with confidence, and keep tabs on your finances (hey there, credit score, I see you!) all in one place. Plus, NerdWallet has over 75,000 glowing reviews in the App Store (and a 4.8 star rating) if you want to read up on any more testimonials.
Tim Chen, NerdWallet's CEO and co-founder, started this financial journey in 2009 after his sister needed help finding a credit card. Even with an economics degree and a Wall Street background, it took awhile for Tim to find the right recommendation (so don't feel too bad when it takes you a while, too). Their mission is to bring clarity to all of life's financial decisions.
So it's safe to say that NerdWallet is a pretty good sherpa for your journey, too.
Get the most from your money
Did you know that the money you park in a savings account can lose value? Harsh, but true. If your money isn't earning interest that's on pace with inflation it will actually be worth less to you in the future. And if the bank charges fees? Forget about it. Make sure you're earning the interest you deserve and come out on top. NerdWallet has researched dozens of financial institutions to help consumers find the best options. The hard work has already been done for you, so you can just select the account that works best for you and your nest egg.
Keep an eye on everything, securely
Once everything is set up, tracking and managing your finances is what will keep the money machine running smoothly. You can create an account either through the site or the app and link your bank accounts, then keep tabs on all your finances in one place. Get a clear picture of your saving and spending, get insights into how to master your money, and even build your credit score all in one place.
Get extra credit points
Do you have the best credit card for your lifestyle? Some cards give cash back on every purchase, ones with travel perks, and ones that charge way less interest than you're paying now. NerdWallet takes the guesswork out of choosing the right credit card with simple side-by-side comparisons of different credit cards so that you feel confident choosing the right one. Whatever you want to do, NerdWallet can help you find the best credit card to get it done.
Know your options for settling down
Mortgage rates are pretty low and it looks like they're going to stay that way for awhile, so buying a home might be the move sooner than you think. But there's so much more to a mortgage than just the interest rate! To help you choose a mortgage lender, NerdWallet has in-depth reviews on multiple lenders in a mixture of categories so you get the home loan with the mortgage rate, term, and fees that's right for you.
Settle an old score
NerdWallet helps you monitor your credit score for free and helps you see how little things (like raising the limit on your credit card or paying your bills on time) can increase your score. NerdWallet partners with TransUnion® to provide your VantageScore® 3.0, based on information in your TransUnion® credit report. Your score and credit report information are updated weekly. But that's not even close to all:
- They provide you with tips from experts on how you could build or optimize your credit score
- You'll get a detailed look at your credit score and all the factors that go into it—your payment history, credit utilization, the age and type of accounts, balances, and any recent inquiries
- The credit simulator tool gives you an idea of how your credit score would change if you applied for a new credit card, closed your oldest credit card, or got a new auto loan
- You also get free, unlimited access to your credit report
When it comes to managing your money, safe and reliable is where it's at. Establishing a healthy relationship with your finances begins when you take control and practice habits that build wealth. Signing up just takes a few minutes. Set your intentions to build a solid financial foundation, it will only strengthen your relationship with your finances. And don't be afraid to get a little nerdy while you're at it.