Things I learned in my Twenties

Balancing Between Engineering School & 2 Part-time Jobs

Download your free schedule made by Elaf Trabulsi.

“How do you balance between having 2 part-time jobs, freelancing and being a full-time Engineering student?”

The truth is, I don’t always find my balance. A lot of times, my priorities get mixed up and I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I’m late on deadlines, other times I overwork myself to the point of exhaustion.

I wouldn’t say these methods changed my life completely but they did help me greatly.

Scheduling is not overrated

A method that helped me have time for many things is to have a clear schedule of my days. I added in the university classes, the day off, the workout sessions, work hours & even studying hours. I don’t necessarily follow it 100% of the time, but at least 70% of my time is organised.

Here’s a screenshot of the personalised schedule that I made:

You can download this as an Excel in the button below and fill it up with your own schedule!

How to schedule:

  1. Add all of your classes and times in the schedule. Keep in mind the fact that there will be time for commute, time to chat with your friends before & after classes.
  2. Add working hours — as part-time you should only have specific hours a week in which you work, or office hours. Add those in after the classes.
  3. Check your free slots and see where you can add study hours and catching up hours in case you need them.
  4. After finalising your classes, work hours & study hours, you can add in extra things like exercising, sports or any leisure activities.

However, don’t overwhelm yourself and try as much as possible to eliminate any useless hours/activities. This takes us to the next point which is, being realistic.

Be realistic

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overplanning & underachieving. I’ve been there. Make sure you’re honest with yourself and know your limits. Know when you’re usually tired & when you don’t feel like working and would rather relax and do nothing instead. This will help you greatly when planning.

Know what to say yes to and when

I never wanted to miss out on opportunities so I always said yes. Yes to robotics competitions, yes to extra research, yes to new clients, yes to social events that I didn’t even feel like attending, I said yes to volunteer work and favours, to study hours, extra work at my job, working out, birthday parties & even lunch breaks with friends when I knew I could use this time to either catch up on work or just be by myself collecting my thoughts. I ended up saying yes to a lot more than I could handle. This resulted with a really pact schedule and not enough time to rest and restart, or often times, things would overlap & would take much more time than I had hoped for.

My advice wouldn’t be to say ‘no’ all the time, it would be to prioritise & know when to say ‘yes’.

Do your own thing

Remember, your schedule doesn’t have to look ‘perfect’ or full & productive. As long as it works for you, your own pace & time, then don’t worry about what others’ might look like.

Best of luck & may the next few months be a period of transformation & grace!

By Elaf Trabulsi

Engineer & freelance writer

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