Time Management is the Essence of Success
Finding time to devote to studies – full-time or part-time – can be a challenge as an adult. While as an undergrad in college, you may have had very few real responsibilities, now that you’re ready to enrol for an IMI programme, you probably have a lot to juggle. Working full-time, possibly maintaining a family, and all of the other responsibilities that come with your stage in life can make you time poor. But there are a few things you can do to help achieve a balance and still find time to complete a Short Programme, Professional Diploma or even a Masters.
Find Your Motivation
First, you need to have an intrinsic motivation for what you’re doing. When you’re selecting the programme, it’s important to consider whether this is the right one for you, and if you’ll truly enjoy it. After all, when your work feels like play, you’re much more likely to persevere through the challenges that come with it. One way to understand whether a certain programme is right for you is to speak to one of our expert Programme Advisors, or alternatively try connecting with past IMI participants via LinkedIn
“A strategy for managing time that works for me is that I do the work that I love to do first. From this I gain energy. This energy can then be used to deal with the work that I am procrastinating over. I have found this to be very effective and sustainable.” Says James, a Business Development Manager who has completed a Masters and an additional Diploma with IMI.
Plan Your Time Accordingly
Strategic planning of your time is one of the most important aspects of balancing life and studies. To ensure that you’re making the most of your time, make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. There are many things you might need to consider – like a specific day every week where you’re in the office or needing to ferry your children to football practice – but you’ll be able to create a schedule that works for you.
“Setting aside one or two evenings each week, and one half-day at the weekend, really helped me to keep on top of the workload. It was quite challenging balancing a full-time job and a busy household with 3 kids, but it is manageable.” Says Susan, a previous IMI participant who obtained her Masters.
If you break your learning down into bite-sized chunks, you might find that it’s more manageable. For example, rather than diving headfirst into a Professional Diploma, perhaps you’d choose to complete a micro-credential first, and stack the credits. The same applies to a Masters, which you can break down into Professional Diplomas.
“The structure of the Diplomas, meaning that each one is completed within 6 months, really makes a Masters achievable and is definitely worth the juggle.” Says Susan.
You’ll need to be realistic when it comes to scheduling your time. If you’re working all the time, you might find that you become less productive, so make sure you build in time for relaxing, getting enough sleep and exercise. At the same time, you should try to optimise time that would usually “leak” away from your, for example if you’re on the train to work, you could use that time to revise your course materials. You might also find small things that you can give up for the short duration of the programme, which might free up some time. For example, could you save time on your commute by working from home a few days a week?
“I try to cut out useless TV flicking and watching something for the sake of watching something. So, to replace this I listen to podcasts or watch related Ted Talks. I would bring relevant reading material with me everywhere, books, articles, all the above related to the topic that I am studying. The mix of media helps immerse you in the topic without burning yourself out.” Says James.
The most important thing about setting a schedule is to remember that it needs to work for you specifically. If you’re more of a morning person, it makes sense for you to get up early to start on an assignment, but if you focus better at night after the kids have gone to bed, build your study time around this.
By categorising tasks by level of importance, you’ll ensure that you’re completing what’s 100% necessary before you move on to the “nice to haves” on your task list. You can do this by writing down your task list in a physical planner, on a notes app on your phone, or even by using some kind of task management tool that you can find online.
“I would always have a notebook with me, to jot down ideas or thoughts that I have. This is useful not only for record keeping, it also frees up bandwidth in your brain as you have let the thought go and do not have to remember it.” Says James.
Communication is Key
Once you’ve decided on the programme, make sure that you communicate effectively with everyone who will be impacted. For example, you’ll need to make your manager and team members at work aware of the days you’ll be out of the office to complete the programme. It might also help to let them know about any deadlines you’ll have so that support can be arranged at work if required.
But work isn’t the only important consideration – if you have children old enough to understand, you should inform them of your schedule. If you have a partner who might need to row in a little extra on childcare or household tasks while you’re burning the midnight oil, you should keep them informed too.
What’s Your Learning Style?
Figure out your learning style before you start. The Honey and Mumford learning styles questionnaire can be helpful in figuring out what kind of learner you are, so that you can see what styles could work for you. Once you do this, you can plan your time and completion of work more efficiently.
“For me as Reflector I know I need to do a lot of revision of notes, articles, books etc before I put pen to paper so while doing a programme, I need to allow for this and generally I will collate all info into a mind map and then allow myself an entire day or two to complete an assignment.” Says Ash, who recently completed the Executive Coaching programme.
For others, they may find it useful to spend a little time every day doing some reading and research and writing and rewriting of their assignment.
Others work best when under pressure so rather than berate themselves for being so last minute, it might be more useful for them to understand that coffee and staying up until 2am on the submission date is their best way of working!
Find a Study Buddy!
Our final tip is to leverage your peer network. When you’re undertaking an IMI programme, chances are the majority of others will be in a similar situation to you, when it comes to work and home responsibilities. Whether this takes the form of asking a “study buddy” to hold you accountable, or connecting with your fellow participants on LinkedIn or WhatsApp, you can share invaluable knowledge with each other as you go through the programme.
While undertaking any IMI programme is a commitment, with careful planning and strategic use of your time, you might find it easier than you think to balance the study commitments along with your full-time life! When you’re enrolled on a programme that you’re seriously motivated to complete, you can rest assured the hard work will pay off when not only do you become a more effective and valuable employee, but also significantly enhance your career prospects going forward.