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Going to School Full-Time While Running a Business — Is It Possible?

By: Andrew Deen


Young student watching lesson online and studying from home. Young woman taking notes while looking at computer screen following professor doing math on video call. Girl studying from home on pc.

Taking on full-time school can be a daunting challenge. Starting and running your own business is also a formidable task. Trying to do both together? Some would say this feat is downright impossible. But don’t believe everything you hear. Managing two life-sized responsibilities like business ownership and full-time schooling can indeed be possible.

Every year, people around the globe successfully navigate the balancing of both roles. It just takes stamina, drive, passion — and a few vital skills and strategic considerations — to make the process doable. Here are three incredibly important components of doing school while running your own business.

Practicing Effective Time-Management Skills

Overlapping two full-time tasks within one full-time existence takes some finesse to achieve. This makes effective time management imperative. A few specific elements of time management will help you maintain a handle on all of the tasks and responsibilities you’ll have on your plate.

Do an Audit of How You Currently Spend Your Time

For a week, jot down how you spend all your waking hours. Then take stock of how that added up. Chances are, you’ll discover a few surprises. Creating a clear picture of where your time is currently going can define a starting point or baseline from which you can optimize. This alone can often gain you multiple hours in the week simply by aligning tasks, cutting superfluous activities, and arranging your time more strategically.

Practice Strong Prioritization

Every task and responsibility imposed on you may come with an “urgent” attached. However, this is not the case. Learning how to decide what tasks are must-do, what tasks can wait, and what tasks you don’t need to do at all can be instrumental in maintaining your sanity. In fact, when you constantly have significant demands on your time, this is the only way to accomplish the things you actually need to get done.

Be Ruthless About Containing Task Time

Items on your to-do list have the propensity to grow to the amount of time you give them. This isn’t a problem when your margins are flexible. Unfortunately, as a full-time student and business owner, you don’t have margin to give.

Before starting a task, think through how much time it should take, decide on an estimate and a cap, and do all you can to stick to that figure. This is a skill that takes practice. But developing it can transform your productivity, work habits, and time management.

Choosing a Strategic School Format for Business Owners

Not all schooling was created the same. This can be good news for business-owners-turned-students. Many undergraduate and postgraduate programs available today are designed for professional learners. This means that the structure and schedule of the program is tailored for your needs and, as much as possible, can accommodate your work life.

Another option for a school format that can fit more seamlessly with your business responsibilities is enrolling in an online or virtual program. Remote learning offers a number of benefits that can benefit business owners.

They can eliminate superfluous time requirements like travel to and from school institutions. They also streamline various parts of the learning process and can be more flexible, making it easier to fit engaging with the program into a working lifestyle.

Learn How to Delegate

When push comes to shove, you may not be able to accomplish all the tasks and responsibilities required of you as a business owner when you take on a full-time degree program. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up one or the other. It simply means you may have to practice the fine art of delegation.

Does your business employ others who might be able to take on some of the tasks or responsibilities you currently manage? If you do have staff or team members, this is an important conversation to have early on.

If you do not yet have other staff, this might be the time to start thinking about whether this is possible or would be beneficial for your business. Weigh the potential costs and benefits of bringing on an intern, a co-founder, or an employee to help you manage work that you may no longer have capacity for when you begin a degree program. When done right, this can be a hugely beneficial move for both yourself and your business.

Attending to Your Physical Health and Wellbeing

When things become hectic and it feels like you have more demands on your time than you could ever hope to fulfill, the first thing that many business owners cut from the schedule is personal care and routines. Sleep amount and quality decreases. Physical activity or exercise goes out the window. Time with friends or loved ones gets put on the backburner.

Even though it feels counter-intuitive to many driven individuals who have taken on a dual-status challenge like business ownership alongside studentship, investing proper time and energy in your own health can actually be one of the most important choices you make. Even protecting small amounts of personal care time per week can keep you performing at your best.

From decision-making, to stamina, to avoiding health risks that can increase when healthy habits are neglected, keeping your health a priority is an investment not just in your wellbeing but in the success of your business and your schooling.

If you employ these techniques in your life design and decision-making, you can take on business ownership and studentship and not only survive but thrive.

Published: November 28, 2022

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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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