Going to school and running a small business have a lot in common. You’re always supposed to be doing at least ten different things, talking to ten different people, and making time to do even more later on. There’s never really a moment when you can say, “Alright, everything is done. Let’s take a nap.” It’s a busy, hectic life.
On the other hand, both attending school and running a business can be very rewarding. We are often asked to do things quite outside of our range of experience, and in rising to the occasion we find that we are actually more capable than we may have previously thought. There is a great sense of achievement in growth and accomplishment.
So how do you manage both? You could put things on hold, but if you’re the entrepreneurial type (or the type who reads up on study tips online) it’s safe to say you’re not the type of cook who likes to keep things slowly bubbling on the back burner. You have to find a way to do both and, as we find when we attempt to most things in life, almost nothing is impossible.
I stumbled across an interesting (although simplistic) article on running a business while studying on Twitter today. It’s amazing what you can find just by searching for a word like “studying” on that site — the sheer quantity of new information and different perspectives boggle the mind. Anyway, following a rule I read somewhere on the internet that says that 80% of everything (including this) is crap, the article basically can be boiled down to the following.
Studying is hard. Running a business is hard. But you can do both! How? By following these three hints:
1) Make time for both — this means actually make a schedule and adhere to it. “Catching as catch can” may sound appealing but it results in too many missed opportunities, forgotten assignments, and rushed jobs.
2) Remove distractions — I know I just told you how much I love Twitter, but I must confess that I am much more productive when I don’t let myself surf the net between every item I check off my daily to-do list.
3) Stay organized — buy yourself a planner (or use an electronic one) and keep it up to date all the time. Streamline the way you file important documents to avoid clutter or the loss of important data. Make an effort to be like “that overly neat guy/girl” you know.
The article stops there, but I would add another item to the list: be adaptable. In school, professors change their minds about assignments, classes fall behind (or move ahead), and group meetings require constant rescheduling. Business is much the same.
Things rarely move at the same rate as you might expect. That’s why you need to be ready to make use of each and every available moment. A few spare minutes in a waiting room is a great time to answer work emails or study if you subscribe to a service like TestSoup.
Last but not least, set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for both your studies and your business so that you always have a clear picture of what you could be doing to achieve them when life throws you a curveball. Then, when it inevitably does, you’ll be ready to take advantage.