Blending full-time work with part-time university study, a degree apprenticeship is a brilliant opportunity to leap straight into a career when you leave school. You still get to graduate with your cap and gown, the only difference is you’ll have several years of experience on your CV too.

However, before you dive in head first, it’s important to know what you’re signing up for. Juggling university with working life takes hard work and self-discipline, so how do you get the balance right?

We’ve come up with a few essential time management tips to make your life as easy as possible.

1. Stay organised

With a full-time job to go to during the week, you need to avoid last-minute cramming sessions in the library at all costs. Follow these top tips to manage your time efficiently:

  • Start your university work as early as possible
  • Set yourself achievable goals - SMART goals will help you stay motivated and on track
  • Make daily to-do-lists - breaking everything down into bite-sized tasks and prioritising them in order of importance ensures you focus on what needs to be done
  • Plan your time using a diary or calendar - keep a record of all your shifts, lectures, deadlines and social events

You only have 24 hours in the day, so you need to plan your time carefully if you want to prove yourself in the workplace and achieve academically.

2. Take time out for yourself

Figuring out just how much ‘me time’ to pencil into your schedule can be tricky. However, the secret to effective time management is working smarter, not harder.

So, don’t work yourself to the bone; a frazzled brain fuelled by caffeine and adrenaline alone is neither productive nor efficient. Whether you’re at work or in the library, remember to take regular breaks (eating a soggy sandwich while hunched over your laptop is not a break) and make time to socialise with your friends and other apprentices.

On that note, you’re never going to feel in control when you’ve only had a few hours sleep. Get those eight hours and you’ll be surprised by how much more you can achieve when you’re well-rested and alert.

3. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support

It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re balancing a 30-hour working week with getting a top degree. Even superheroes need help sometimes, just look at Batman and Robin.

For any work-related woes, you should speak to your mentor, manager or HR team. Your manager will also check in with you regularly to make sure you’re coping with the workload, especially when course deadlines are looming.

As a degree apprentice, you’ll also have access to your university’s support services. If you’re feeling stressed about your studies, take your pick from your personal tutor or course mentor, the academic support team or even the university librarians, who are often trained subject specialists.

As paradoxical as it sounds, the less free time you have, the more you’re likely to get done. With less time to procrastinate, you’ll soon learn to focus your mind on the task at hand. And you’ll be the one laughing when you graduate with a debt-free degree and all that invaluable work experience.

*Written by Louise at RateMyApprenticeship *