The National Center for Education Statistics’ latest report said more than 8 million adults returned to college in the fall of 2011 to get a degree or supplement their education. Many of these older students are business owners as well. Going to school while running a successful business at home requires a balancing act. The right planning and tools will get you through the experience. These tips will help you navigate the hectic work and school schedule.
Block Out Your Time for School and Work
When are you most alert and able to do school work? Some people can sit through lectures much better early in the morning. Others get a buzz of productive energy at night. Determine when you are most focused on school work, and block out those times just for that. For example, every morning from 7am to 9am you’ll watch online lectures, read supplemental material and take your quizzes.
Pick the right time, and don’t let work distract you. During that time you’ll just do school work, not check business emails or return customer calls. Likewise, during those work times you select, don’t do any school work. Keep the two activities completely separate on your calendar and communicate these time frames to family, classmates and anyone you work with.
Take it Out of the Office
If you find business continues to distract you from your school work, take it out of the house. Go to a coffee shop, library or restaurant patio, find a comfortable seat and do your school work there. You’re likely to find many others studying with an open laptop and a cup of coffee too.
Buy a good laptop or tablet and a set of headphones. Get an Evernote account to store your notes for access wherever you happen to be studying. Use Google Calendar to keep track of assignments, tests and deadlines. Keep yourself organized this way so you can study anywhere. For example, by using the cloud-based tools Evernote and Google Calendar, you can pull out your smartphone while waiting in the doctor’s office and study your notes for a test.
Integrate School and Work
Stay motivated by using what you are currently studying in school to succeed in your home business. Let’s say you’re studying business administration through an online program with Penn Foster. When you’re in the business and law section of the course, take note of how your home business is protected against fraud or lawsuits. Applying your school work to your business will give it more meaning and a purpose.
Take the Pressure Off
Set realistic expectations for your academic work, suggests Global Post. Recognize that to be successful overall, you need to keep the business running and maintain good grades. If you plan to get a perfect grade in school, you might damage your business by focusing so hard on the grade. Decide what a realistic grade would be for you in school while running the business. It may also mean taking fewer classes and finishing the program a year later. That’s still a better option than losing customers while in school.
Get Outside Help
If your business is very phone driven, hire an answering service to take calls while you’re doing your school work, suggests the National Federation for Independent Business. People may leave a message with the service when they wouldn’t leave a voice message on your phone. If you receive a lot of emails asking for information, hire a virtual assistant to respond to customers during your school hours. Find ways to delegate or outsource some of your business work so you’ll have time for school without ignoring the business.