Not Enough Time For Work and School

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about work vs. school:

I’ve come into a recent problem with my job as of late, causing me to not be able to take care of my classwork properly like I should. Now I know that normally the answer to this question would be quite simple, just request more hours off to help alleviate more time for me to do things school related and to be able to catch up on homework. However, just recently we got very short handed at the last minute and was desperately needed for my skills at my job. The fact being that I’ve worked there for just about a year now and all of my managers are very impressed with my improvements I feel that it’s a good thing, but I have run into a problem. I’m working way too much(pretty much 40 hours a week) alongside being in school full time, and I don’t know what to do. 

Because they need me so badly I feel even worse requesting for more time off throughout the week, especially since they’re so impressed with my improvements, and I don’t want to let them down. But on the other hand, I need to take care of my grades because if I don’t I could lose my funding for school, which is from work as well. What would you suggest? I appreciate any recommendations. Signed–Guilty Between a Good Job and School

Dear Guilty Between a Good Job and School:

It’s nice to be wanted and to owe that to sensing your manager and coworkers are impressed by what you are increasingly able to do. I expect your college instructors would be equally impressed if you made your courses a 40 hour a week job. So let’s admit that your job comes first because apparently you’ve found one that fits you and your workplace and earns money for school. You know the simple answer, but is there another? 

Our site doesn’t give simple answers nor does it provide complex ones. Rather we suggest engaging you in a process of problem solving. That process entails several steps:

  1. In short there is no Goldie Locks just right solution at least for now. Can you see this both as an immediate and a long term problem? Also can you see  there is no perfect resolution–a compromise between two needs and wants? You are but one person and you have only 2 hours per day. Your long term answer likely will hinge upon if your current job is in sync with your career goals and if you learn it could lead to a future that you love more than what might or might not result from acquiring its needed credentials. Some kinds of jobs enable the smarts to a good career without the usual certification and degrees. A  few especially innovative-minded souls have dropped out of college to shape a good career.                                                                                                  
  2. This is to suggest a second or parallel is to consider what are the long term possibilities of the job you have now. These entail making time to explore what are your values. The site 80,000 hours was founded by a couple of guys while in a university in England. They ask themselves career questions whose answers hinged on the way they saw the world and to what degree they wanted to fit in versus make a contribution. Such a question is not something you know intuitively, but is one that you likely will find emerges from time to time while in your job or trying not to look like you are as tired as you are. To soak up as much as possible about the field of this job, you can informally observe and talk with coworkers and those who own/manage your work organization. What’s its future and how does it fit with the changes in this world of work? Might it be as good as or better than school? Might is serve as steps in related kinds of work? How does it fit your long term goals?. You can ask those who supervise you and are seeing your interests and talents how you are doing and what they advise for you now and long term. Managers like to be asked their opinion for how you are doing and to give advice. In a real sense they might can take a special interest in you and help you weigh the question you are weighing now.                     
  3. Of course, for now you must weigh the payoff of this job to meet your day by day cost of living needs and accumulating money so that you don’t go into debt to pay for your education.
  4. This is a time to seek advice for your future. Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in his recent New York Times piece We Get, and Give, Lots of Bad Advice. Here’s How to Stop, argues that we make a big mistake to depend on just convenient sources. Rather he suggests to look for advice from those who have earned the right to give it. Have you thought about who might be the best sources to find advice to answer this question you have submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors or is it just a convenient source? Have studied the credentials of the Workplace Doctors and reviewed the advice they have given to several of the thousands of questions they have answered. And how does it compare with others such as Adam Grant. Also have you begun to develop a mentor-student relationship? What is the experience and credentials of a mentor? How would his answer supplement or challenge what you are reading now? (To learn that ship your question to him or her, but don’t send my answer.)
  5. Now with these steps are you ready to see if there is a short term answer to the question you posed? Can you find a way to continue both your job and to survive your course this semester–and maintain grades so as you say not “lose my funding for school”? What might make that possible? Have you gotten any tips or knowledge of your instructors that would keep your grades up? For example have you learned to maintain communication with each of them about how you’re doing? Have to tell them about this particular dilemma you have about the importance of your good job and yet wanting to do what is essential that you must do to maintain a B average or whatever is required to not lose your loans?  And have you talked with your workplace managers about how much you can work and carry a full load that is required to not learn funding later in this semester or next?
  6. Finally, you should be better able to handle your schooling after a semester of remote instructions. I expect your instructors will be patient and understanding if you keep them informed and engaged in your seeking an answer to your stress.               

Do these decision-making process thoughts address your question? Do any of them make sense? Are some of them worthy of further thought and application? Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden