Employee and Student: Tips for Juggling BothPublished on: 20 August 2018
This blog was written by Hollie Daniels: legal support assistant in the private client team
I have been fortunate enough to have the full support of my employers at Lanyon Bowdler in studying towards the CILEX Level 6 Diploma in Law & Practice with a view to one day becoming a chartered legal executive specialising in private client. However, trying to juggle full-time employment and also cram in the recommended minimum fifteen hours of study a week (as well as having a bit of a social life!) can be testing at times. There is many a day, after seven hours of drafting documents, speaking with clients, typing letters and reviewing files, you could be forgiven for requiring a certain amount of sheer determination and willpower (and perhaps a glass of wine or two!) to then go home and work out complex inheritance tax calculations, or learn about the provision of the Trustee Act 1925.
It isn’t easy, you have to have a great degree of motivation and I always try and remember, to quote: ‘the only way to do great work is to love what you do’ and although a ‘cliché’ I do believe this to be true. Being able to help someone plan for their future, for example, by assisting them to draw up a Will to protect their assets, or by being that pillar of support following bereavement is so rewarding, you really do feel as though you’re making a difference to your clients. It does spur you on (well that and several coffees if you’re talking revision post 9pm!). I am fortunate enough that I also have that support from Lanyon Bowdler which gives me extra motivation – they must have confidence in my capabilities too!
Stick to a schedule
The reason for this is that when you plan things, then you always stay informed: it means I know when I will be able to finish a particular assignment or module. If I know I have a weekend with friends coming up I will try and dedicate a few more hours during the week to study so that I can go out and relax, without stressing about any missed study time. At the beginning of the week I tend to set a plan: what I aim to achieve that week, how many hours it will take me and how much spare time I envisage I will have. Writing things up, making notes and planning well means I find it much easier to balance life between study, work, and a personal life.
Today, most of us get distracted from time to time by using Facebook, Twitter or checking our mobile phones. These things can distract you from what you are doing and it can therefore take you a lot more time to finish tasks. Personally I find it much easier to revise at work in one of our many ‘quiet’ areas or meeting rooms during the week, where I don’t have access to the television or even my beloved male Pomeranian ‘Winston’; many a night I found myself sitting at the kitchen table attempting to concentrate and then up he jumps for cuddles (and of course I couldn’t resist!).
Though some may find it better to multi-task I find that it consumes more of your energy than usual and in many cases it’s proven that it actually ends up taking more time to finish those individual tasks. I find the best way to complete a task is to finish it and then move on to another one. Taking breaks is if course ok. At the moment I am also trying to renovate and re-decorate at home so I find it actually quite therapeutic to do a few hours of painting or even glossing the radiators (more relaxing that it sounds!) before retuning to the books and flowcharts.
Consider having a day off!
Sometimes taking time off actually makes things better; it gives you the strength to handle more pressure. I try to have every other Sunday as a day to unwind, perhaps go to the Spa or visit my niece and nephew in Ludlow. You then feel revitalised and spurred on to tackle the next module coming your way.
Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself
It hasn’t been a quick or easy process for me. I became a student again in the midst of purchasing my first home. Sometimes I feel as though I have been a student forever, having decided to take things at my own pace and study a module at a time. For the first six months after my purchase I took an extended break and although it was frustrating, contemplating how far this would put me behind and how much longer it would take until I graduate, it meant I could thoroughly enjoy all the excitement that comes with purchasing your first home.
Just have confidence that you will get there in the end with enough self-motivation and determination. Is it easy? Nope. Will it be worth it in the long run? Absolutely.