There are many reasons why continued education and adult learning can be valuable. Whether you’re looking to fill gaps of missed school education, keep up with advances in your industry, broaden your skillset, or are simply up for a new challenge, adult education can be a brilliant catalyst for personal and professional growth. At this moment, you might be thinking: who has the time to manage a full-time career, family responsibilities, a social life, and hitting the books?
Of course, the answer will vary from person to person, but in this article we’ll explore the benefits of continued education and share some top tips on how to juggle your existing workload with the potential addition of more.
The Advantages of Adult Learning for Working Professionals
Online learning has been on the rise for years, but it’s become even more accessible since the pandemic, when many education institutions transitioned from physical classrooms to virtual ones. This evolution has opened a whole new world of possibilities for full-time employees who are now able to virtually attend lessons in their own time.
New Qualifications Can Benefit for Your Career
Professional qualifications, whether directly or indirectly related to your current role, can allow you to enhance and grow your career. One of the most exciting and rewarding things about acquiring new knowledge through continued education is that you can implement it right away. Refreshed or even new skills, when applied to your current job role, can enable you to achieve greater success or even fast-track your path to promotion. Having a new qualification behind you not only looks great on your CV, it’s also a brilliant way to stoke your passion, boost your confidence, and demonstrate to your boss (and colleagues) that you’re eager to add more value.
Learning is Good for Your Mind and Wellbeing
Along with giving up smoking, decreasing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet and exercising more, continued learning (especially between the ages 33 – 42) can positively affect your health. Putting your brain to use and exercising your cognitive muscles by learning new things can improve your memory, attention span, and ability to process new information. All of these benefits, and more, can greatly impact your productivity and energy levels, as well as your self-esteem.
Practical Advice for Managing Adult Education While Working
The idea of finding time to attend lessons, study, and take tests might seem daunting with everything else that’s already vying for your attention – not least of all, your job! However, with some research and careful planning, there’s likely to be an option that’ll suit your schedule.
- Do Your Research
If furthering your education is something you’re seriously interested in, then it’s important to conduct thorough research and get all the facts. Knowing what courses/programmes/degrees are out there, as well as how much they cost, how long they will take to complete, how flexible the schedule is, what the deliverables are, and all other relative information will enable you to choose one that’s best suited to you.
- Update Your Employer
How much you choose to disclose to your manager is ultimately your choice, however, being transparent about your plans to study can work in your favour. A good place to start is by assuring your manager that you’ll still be able to manage your workload and schedule. Open and honest communication about your plans can demonstrate to your manager that you’re a passionate, proactive employee taking the initiative to invest in your career by upskilling. By creating a study plan, you should be able to account for your current workload and ensure you’re able to continue to deliver your same standard of work. However, there may be times where you might have to work overtime to do this - showing that you’re dedicated to your job.
By proving your dedication and not allowing your studies to become cause for concern, negotiating a more flexible and study-friendly schedule with your manager is likely to be more successful.
- Map Out Your Workload
As mentioned above, creating a plan that accounts for both your studies and your full-time job will really help you to stay on top of all your deadlines. Time management will play a large role in balancing all your commitments, so the better your plan, the easier it’ll be to accomplish. In your plan, make note of all your deadlines and try to estimate how much time you’ll need to compete your tasks. This information can help you to plot out how much work needs to be done each day/week/month. Having a map of your workload will help you to recognise where you’ll have time for other important things in your life.
- Take Care of Yourself
Always remember to devote at least 30 minutes a day to yourself. This time is important as it’s what will help you to keep your efforts sustainable. Prioritising your wellbeing is as important as your productivity – if not more! Self-care activities can include physical exercise, a massage, guided meditations, journalling, a fresh air walk, a power nap, etc. It also includes ensuring that you’re eating a healthy and nutritious diet that can supply maximum energy, brain function and keep your immune system strong.