How I Managed to Combine Work in an IT Company and Studying at a Top University:6 Secrets of Time Management
Hello, dear readers! My name is Margherita and I work as an HR-manager at Training Data, a data collection and annotation company. In this article I want to tell you more about my experience and share some life hacks for beginners working remotely!
In our company, there are many students who work in data annotation, project management positions, or in the HR department. There are also those who have part-time jobs in multiple places, and they often complain about the lack of work-life balance.
I also faced this problem when I started working as an HR manager at Training Data. Initially, I worked part-time, but then switched to full-time even before completing my studies. This year, I graduated from the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) with a bachelor’s degree, successfully defended my thesis, and managed to work full-time at an IT company simultaneously.
To find time for work, studies, and personal life, I had to study numerous materials on time management and techniques to improve work-life balance. In this article, I will share my experience and favourite time organising tools. They will be especially useful for students and young professionals.
Why did I need time management?
I started combining work and studies starting from my third year of university: that’s when we started having specialised subjects, and I felt the need to acquire practical skills. That’s how I got an internship at Training Data. Initially, I worked 30 hours a week, but quickly switched to a full-time position.
That’s when I faced the first difficulties:
1. I had to organise my work in a way that wouldn’t affect my studies. I definitely didn’t want to be expelled from university in my final year, so I continued to dedicate a lot of time to my thesis and lectures. I also wanted to have time for hobbies, family, and my significant other.
2. I started suffering from a lack of focus: when you think about work while studying, worry about studying while at work, complete tasks on weekends, and have late-night discussions with classmates, and get easily distracted during dates by messages from colleagues, you realise that something needs to change.
That’s when I started to explore techniques to improve productivity and time organisation.
Which tools helped me restore work-life balance?
Tip: Write down even the smallest tasks, don’t forget anything, even something that may seem insignificant at first glance!
- Scheduled rest time. To avoid burnout, I trained myself to set aside time during the week (for example, half a day on Sunday or a few hours on weekdays) when I leave work and studies behind and fully focus on family, my significant other, or friends. During this time, I forget about the tasks that await me. Work is important, but psychological comfort and meetings with loved ones are also a priority for me. A task tracker and a calendar help find time for them – everyone has some free time!
- The Pomodoro Technique. For this technique, a timer on your phone will be sufficient. It helps allocate optimal time for concentration and rest, and reduces procrastination. The work process should be divided into short time intervals of 25 minutes each, and set a timer for yourself. As soon as you start the timer, you immediately start working on tasks. After each session, there is a 5-minute break. When you complete four sessions, take a 20-minute break. This way, you can focus more effectively at work and be less distracted by irritants, such as social media.
- Effective communication in messengers. Over time, I realised how important it is to separate personal social networks from work communication. Ideally, the company will use a corporate messenger, but even in Telegram, you can create thematic folders and turn off notifications for everyone except important contacts. There are many different options, the main thing is to find the optimal way for you to organize communication with colleagues and classmates.
- Eisenhower Matrix. This technique of setting priorities became an interesting solution for me. You need to divide all tasks into 4 groups: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important tasks. This way, you can determine which tasks are better to tackle right away and what can wait. Sometimes, I realise that unimportant and non-essential tasks can be completely ignored for now, in order to focus on something more important or free up time for myself.
- Time trackers. Once I started keeping track of my calendar and included absolutely everything, even showering or having breakfast, I realised how much time I have left. It becomes easier to plan my day and find slots for all areas of life.
- Task trackers. They not only help organise work and study time but also prevent forgetting anything. But more importantly, they visually show progress and remind me of how much I have accomplished today. This gives me more positive emotions and motivation for work.
What did the experience of multitasking teach me?
Although combining work and studies was difficult at first, there were positive aspects to it:
- By the time of graduation, I can have work experience and be more marketable, and I can establish useful connections while still being a student.
- Sometimes work helps in my studies: I can better absorb the material because I apply the theory in practice and learn how things work in the business world.
- I can discover interesting directions: the university provides general fundamental knowledge, but only through practice can I understand the field in which I want to develop.
- Such time management also disciplines me. In one day, I learn to accomplish more tasks and develop faster.
However, I understand that it would have been harder for me to plan my time if it weren’t for the working conditions in my company. Remote work and a flexible schedule are among our values.
Thanks to this, from the first weeks, I could independently create my own schedule. I didn’t have to work from 9 to 18, and I had a lot of freedom in planning my time and tasks.