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Studying whilst working full-time

Combining study with full-time work is undoubtedly a challenge. Below is an outline of my daily schedule, along with some top tips for anyone in a similar situation. 

Written by Dhiren G. |

White printed planner on laptop
''Planning ahead is always the best option when you are working full time''.

From the day I enrolled in the LLM programme, my main concern was when and how to study - I’m reading for the LLM via distance learning, and I work full-time as a lawyer at the same time). I started by browsing through the student blogs, the programme guide and the internet.

Ultimately, I managed to come up with a plan to suit my daily agenda and I thought I would share it with everyone else. Obviously, we all have different day to day responsibilities and duties but this may help those who do a 9 - 5 job and study at the same time.

My day starts at 5.00 a.m. I usually read through the previous day’s topics or conclude the areas which I could not finish the day before. At the beginning of my study sessions I used this time to make my study plan, but once I got into finishing up topics, I started to use this slot to read through the little notes I took down the previous day. This morning session goes on for an hour.

Then I work out for 15 minutes. I prefer doing a quick high-intensity workout to get me energised. Working out daily is beneficial in terms of keeping me steady and focused throughout the day. By 7.50 I usually leave home and reach work around 8.25. If I have extra time in hand in the morning at work, I use that to read up short topics or the study guide.

Usually by 5.15 I return home and have dinner, workout for an hour or 45 minutes and get back to studying at around 7.10 - sometimes this varies. I study till about 10.30 p.m, and go to bed at around 10.40.

I also had a study buddy for the first few modules that I was studying for. We scheduled a number of study sessions online and had revision sessions to cover all the chapters of each module roughly 3 weeks before the exams. Those revision sessions were really helpful and our study sessions were scheduled at a mutually agreed time as she was a Swiss resident and as I live almost half way around the world from her.

Generally this is the routine that I follow during weekdays. During weekends I try to squeeze in about 4 hours or maybe even 5, depending on my wife’s plans!

Top tips for combining study with full-time work:

1. Get all the reading material sorted out during the first two weeks of studying. I initially tried to read them all online but that didn't work well for me. I'm sure that's the case for many of us.

2. Plan ahead. Planning ahead is always the best option when you are working full time. Work out a method to cover all the topics in a practical way. For me, this meant taking some time to figure out what suited my daily agenda.

3. Utilise whatever time you've got. Time flies, so even if it is just 5 minutes, use it to read a note or do a quick search etc. this will maximise your productivity.

4. Schedule breaks. It's a good idea to take regular breaks. It refreshes and re-energises your mind and body alike. I take my breaks during the weekends and I have made it a point to not study too hard on Saturdays and Sundays. For example, I study for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening or at night.

5. Connect with a Study Buddy. Having a study buddy is helpful especially when trying to figure out complicated areas. Another opinion always counts and it's beneficial during revision sessions.

Dhiren is studying the Postgraduate Laws LLM in Sri Lanka.

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