Time management can be difficult for working adults, and it can be especially tricky for those of us who have decided to go back to school. We know that a degree like an MBA from Columbia Southern University can lead to many different career paths. Finishing that college application is the first major step in that direction. Although we know about the benefits to being an adult learner, taking that first step can instead feel like a giant leap.
Students applying to traditional brick-and-mortar schools are often faced with the challenge of completing college applications before set deadlines. When applying to a school like CSU with flexible enrollment options, it can be easier to procrastinate. What are some strategies to help working adults take that first step and apply?
Find the Tools That Work for You
It’s a big job to keep track of everything that a working professional needs to do at home and at work. Thankfully, productivity tools can point us in the right direction.
If you’re tech savvy, setting reminders through calendar applications and setting up push notifications can go a long way. Many modern devices are also voice-activated. When you’re away from your desk and you remember that you wanted to wrap up that application tonight, ask Alexa or Siri to remind you when the time is right.
Even if you’re not a tech expert, offline tools are there to help. No one knows you as well as yourself, so leave reminders wherever you’re most likely to see them. Sticky notes on the computer monitor, notes on the bathroom mirror or the fridge, and more complex systems like daily planners can all help nudge you in the right direction.
Share Your Goals With a Helpful Friend
Friends and loved ones can be your biggest allies in helping you accomplish your academic goals. If you tell someone close to you about your plan to go back to college, that person can help keep you accountable.
Keep in mind that the person you choose to tell can make a difference. When we make a goal public, our brains can be tricked into thinking we’ve already achieved the goal, meaning we’ll be less motivated to continue. Finding an “accountability buddy” that gives you praise based on your efforts and not who you are, like this article for data scientists suggests, can be a way around that.
After sitting down to complete an application, do your best to eliminate distractions. This is a time to avoid any unnecessary technology getting in the way. Turn off all notifications on your phone and other devices. Focus is a learnable skill, but it takes practice.
Getting rid of distractions can be especially difficult for parents. Finding ways to balance family and academics will help you focus on one thing at a time.
We know that we should be taking steps toward achieving our goals; however, we often come up with reasons why it will be easier or better to wait and do it later. Unfortunately, that can put us into a procrastination “doom loop.” To escape this vicious cycle, try scheduling reminders as late as possible before a deadline, using external deadlines rather than ones you created yourself, or making a game out of the task.
In some cases, procrastination may be linked to anxiety. If you’re experiencing anxiety, this article from “Psychology Today” provides tips for overcoming it.
There are many reasons why it may be difficult for working adults to finish a college application. You’re not alone, and a lot of us have been there before.
When you’re ready to finish your application, we’re here to help. And don’t worry, once you’re a student we’ll continue providing resources to help you manage your time while taking online classes and crush your career while earning a degree.