Many adult students struggle to manage working full-time jobs, taking care of their families and, on top of it all, completing the work for their courses.
So how do you fit in homework when you are busy with so many other things? One way may be to squeeze it in while you are at work. This is tricky because you do not want to cheat your employer, but on the flip side, if you can make some provisions, you may be able to get some work done while you are on the clock.
Understand why it may not work.
Employers feel differently about letting their personnel complete homework during work hours. Why should they pay you to attend school? Some may see it as an investment because once you get a certificate or a higher degree, you will be more valuable to them. Some employers actually pay for people to take additional courses and do not mind this.
Keep in mind that even though your employer may support your education, they may not support you doing homework on their time. It is good to understand all angles of the situation before you approach your boss about completing course work on the clock.
Figure out why it can work.
The best way to do homework at your job is to be honest with your boss about it. If you have a job with a lot of downtime, this can be perfect and some companies will not have a problem with you working quietly while your workflow is down. For example, if you work in a library checking books in and out and there is no other work to do other than check books in and out whenever people approach the desk, you can probably squeeze in some homework in between patron visits.
But if you have a highly stressful job, chances are that squeezing in homework will only cause more stress and frazzle you out. So first, see if there are feasible time blocks where you can concentrate.
Consider the homework.
If you have a job with some downtime, that is the perfect time to do your homework with your supervisor's OK. But first, consider your homework. Is it something that requires long amounts of uninterrupted time? Or can it be done in short spurts? Depending on the attention it needs, it may be wise to put it off till after work. But if it is something you can comfortably fit in, like reading, you may be able to effectively work and work on your class work.
What you don't want to do is get overwhelmed with multi-tasking and not be able to fully comprehend the material. So decide if the class work is work-friendly, that is, if it can be properly completed (or absorbed) in the middle of your job duties. Don't expect to complete every course-based task at work — some will require hours of uninterrupted attention. But if you can work on things like math problems, or get a few pages of reading in at a time, that may help you be more productive. The goal is to see if this works for you, not just your boss. So if you cannot multi-task too well, simply reserve work for work tasks and find ways to get class work done at other times.
Devise a plan.
Most likely, you will want to speak with your boss about doing homework while you work. Once you have decided what you can handle, the next step is to approach your boss and sell the idea without applying too much pressure. The reason to assess your needs first is to see if doing homework on the clock will even work, and if so, what selling points you can use to convince your boss it is a good idea.
Keep in mind that your boss will want to make sure that you are putting your job duties first, rightfully so. If you cannot keep up with doing your homework at work, it is good to let him or her know that if this doesn't work out, you will cease working on there time.
If you don't think your supervisor will even consider letting you do homework on the clock, or think it can hamper your job security, do not approach him or her with this idea. If your job is on the line already, you do not want to give him or her a reason to let you go.
Approach your boss.
Talk to your boss during a time when you have a few uninterrupted moments and get his or her full attention. Start by reminding your supervisor that you are taking a course or courses to complete a certificate or degree. And then ask if it is possible to do homework during downtime? Be sure to let him or her know that you will only be doing work that requires minimal attention, and that you will easily be able to put it aside at any moment in order to put your work duties first. Never tell your boss that in order to finish your class, they must let you do homework on the job — they may turn around and tell you to go do all the homework you want and forget about having your job. Always leave it up to them to decide.
But definitely let your boss know that you are open to giving it a one or two-week period to see if homework on the job even works. Let him or her know that if at any time they are not comfortable with you doing homework on the job, all he or she needs to do is ask and they'll never see you doing homework again. This is a smart approach because it gives you time to prove to your boss that you can handle class work and your job, and it gives you boss time to feel comfortable with seeing you multi-task. If you can win over your boss, you can be very productive.
Use your lunch hour or other break time.
Let's say that your boss says no to the idea; all hope isn't lost. You can use your lunch hour or other breaks to get class work done during regular work hours. Many adult students do this. You may find that it will leave you overwhelmed when you return to work because you do not really get a break from working. So if squeezing in some class work on your lunch hour doesn't work, it's not for you and you will need to find other time to devote to your schoolwork.
Go directly from work to study.
There is one more way to make your class work part of your workday, and that is to either study before work or study directly after work. The thing about switching gears to schoolwork when you get home from work is that you can be bombarded by your family, so if you can leave work and go somewhere quiet to study (a library or a coffeehouse) that may be a wonderful way to finish your workday. It also keeps your class work separate from your family time and minimizes interruptions.
See if this option works for you. If you work a regular 9-to-5 type of job and need to get dinner on the table for your family, see about leaving them something to heat up while you study. It may be the perfect way to devote time to your studies while not being thrown into all the excitement that awaits at home.