Making time for ourselves as adults is tough. When you add in a civilian job, your military commitment, maybe a spouse and kids, there are times it seems downright impossible. Society continually puts pressure on us to “do it all” and do it all well. But, it really can’t all be done. Not with any sense of accomplishment or pleasure.
Online education is an excellent option for so many within the military community. With the flexibility, portability and affordability, it makes it easier to continue learning through deployments, moves, and the other unpredictable moments of military life. Spouses and service members can benefit from a variety of programs that focus on the military community.
But, the big question remains. Just how do you fit online education into your already busy lifestyle? We have some ideas.
Schedule it in
Time blocking is all the rage right now, which means color coordinated calendars and lists are totally acceptable. Make this work for you by identifying how much time you need each week for school work, dividing it by the number of days you can realistically spend studying, and then find that time. Maybe it’s 30 minutes before the day starts. Or it’s a three-hour block at the library on Sunday afternoon. Whatever fits into your schedule, write it down and block it off. Make it a non-negotiable appointment.
Find some extra time
Yes, we all have the same amount of time each week, but how we use it differs. Some may carve out two hours a day for the gym, or an hour for quiet meditation. Spend a week or two tracking what you do all day and see if you can find some “extra” time for studying. Experts recommend planning on two to three hours per credit of studying a week. So if you’re taking one three-credit class, you’ll want to find nine hours a week. Some of that may be cutting out a television show, studying on your lunch break, or even using the time on your commute if you take a train or are in a carpool.
Cut something out
This suggestion is usually met with hesitation. But, if completing your education is the goal, ask yourself if there are other things you are doing that you don’t absolutely have to do right now? Do you have to volunteer at the school, or with your unit’s family group? Do you have to be the one to coach the soccer team? What can you give up, temporarily — or outsource for a few months — to find more time to complete your schoolwork and finish that degree or certification? Maybe something as simple as trading the soccer practice chauffer duties with a neighbor will free up an hour block that you can then use to study.
The last word
We know that there are so many times your education is put on the back burner, but with online education being as flexible as it is, now is the time to carve out just a small piece of time to get it done. Just keep your eye on the prize—and keep in mind the rewards of your new degree or certification. Think of how great you’re going to feel when it is done.