There are some of us who feel there is so much to learn about a topic or even the world. Soaking up knowledge wherever we can, we just can’t get enough; whether it’s random videos, reading informative books or enticing articles about the things we are passionate about. Others, like myself, decide to go back to school, to become masters in a specific topic or niche.

Some people called me crazy for jumping right into a graduate program while starting a full-time career. Is it hard at times? …Yes. Is it valuable now and will be in the future? …Heck yes.

Whether you’re taking physical classes or virtual, it can be hard to stay motivated and on track after a long day in the office. Spending eight hours at work and then dedicating an average of four hours a day to readings, assignments, and discussion posts.

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Is there enough time in the day? Yes. If you follow these tips.

Stay organized

Seems simple enough, but it is the one thing that will keep the ball rolling. You’re human, it won’t be easy to remember what task you need to do for work the next day plus the order of your assigned readings for the week. It’s brain overload. Use a planner. Outline all the task you have to do today (à la to-do list style). As the day goes on, add tasks that may come up and cross off anything that is completed.

Treat your “to-do” list like a living document. Updating daily helps to keep items at the top of your mind and you’re less likely to forget things.

If you want to take your organization skills to a new level, use separate notepads for work and school. That way you can remain hyper-focused when you are zooming through tasks for work versus tasks for your graduate program.

Manage your time

Time management is key. An hour watching TV can easily turn into three, and then you will be sitting on the couch wondering where all the time went. Plan your days down to the minute! Sounds obsessive, but trust me. You want to be able to enjoy life outside of your coursework and full-time job.

Use your agenda (your phone calendar will work just fine) and block out time for specific tasks. You know you will be at work from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so dedicate 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for class work time. Or, if you have physical classes, add your classes to your calendar and then give yourself an extra hour or two immediately after to work on your assignments.

Find your happy place

Pick the perfect study spot. It will be tempting to sit on the couch once you get home from the office. After a while, you will realize that you have been staring at your laptop screen (or the TV) instead of focusing on your assignments.

Find a study spot that will keep your mind going. Somewhere that you can be comfortable for a few hours, but not too comfortable. Use a local library or set up a study space at home. Make sure you have ample space to take notes, comfortable seating, and sufficient lighting!

Bridge the gap

Don’t forget to apply your new knowledge. This goes both ways. See how you can apply your coursework to your full-time job. Also, use the hands-on knowledge that you have gained from work as real-world topics for discussions or assignments.

My graduate program focuses on creating different strategies. The most recent being a Public Relations strategy for Samsung Electronics.

These courses force me to think of strategies in different ways. I can then bring that new way of thinking into developing strategies for clients.

Stay motivated

If your graduate school program is a few months or years long, it is normal to experience periods of discouragement or stress. You may be going through a very challenging class or just really slammed at work. Stay positive! It is a temporary struggle but it will have huge benefits in the long run.

We’re a team of creatives with a hunger to learn. Have a project (or problem) on your mind? Get in touch.