When I was a little kid, I couldn't wait to get my first job. I could only see it as a symbol of becoming an adult. Going off independently, having an interview, earning my own money, and, of course, being able to brag to your friends how grown up you are when you have a job and you're getting paychecks at the same time they're still getting meekly allowances. I first got hired over the summer before my eighth grade year, when I was still fourteen. I thought it was amazing. Working a couple days a week, a few hours at a time, perfectly manageable with the workload of a middle-schooler. Even in my freshman year, I was able to cope with both work and homework, seeing as I was still a minor and couldn't work past seven on weeknights. But then sophomore year rolled around. Over that summer, I turned sixteen. Meaning I could now legally close on my weekday shifts. And let me tell you, closing at a fast food place isn't a twenty minute job. It could take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half. Which means leaving the store around eleven thirty at night. My ability to juggle working six-plus hours two to three nights a week, and completing all the homework from my strenuous workload, went down the drain. I gave it up as a Herculean feat, and quit my job. Now, a year later and with a completely different job, I feel more comfortable and more prepared to balance these two aspects of my life without wanting to break down into a ball of panic and stress every night.
1. Talk to Your Managers
One of the most important and helpful things you can do to make life easier on yourself is to communicate with your managers about your scheduling. If you have certain nights that you never make plans on, or if you think it would be easier to work only weekends, tell them. Ask if you can make a set schedule that you can follow for every week. This will help you get into a rhythm for the school year and give you a sense of stability. Let them know ahead of time if you would like time off, for vacation, if you have a big project coming up that you need to work on, and what have you. Key aspects to remember when deciding on a schedule are how much homework you will receive over the school year, how much free time you would like, and how many hours you want on your paycheck.
2. Plan Ahead
High school students (especially those taking AP classes) understand how homework can seem to magically appear out of nowhere in every class. One night you're feeling productive and proud of yourself for finishing all of your assignments before their deadlines-- particularly if its one of those nights where the deadline isn't the next day. The next, you're coming home with a backpack laden with textbooks from every class and three essays to type. Making a plan for when you're going to work on each assignment will help put your mind at ease and-- hopefully-- prevent too much procrastination. Even if it's just a mental thought of, "I can read two of the chapters tonight and then one more tomorrow," this will still help you more than thinking, "I'll get to it when I get to it." Stay motivated and try completing a whole subject's assignment at once rather than breaking it up too much.
Between all the hard work you're putting into your job and your studies, it's important to remember to put some time away purely for relaxation and entertainment. Maybe watch a Netflix episode every night before bed to wind down or read a favorite book between homework assignments. Activities of personal interest will give you time to catch your breath and slow down, and not feel as though you're sprinting from project to project with no reprieve in between.
4. Utilize Free Time
And while it is good to take breaks so you're not overwhelmed, it's also important to not waste too much of the empty spots in your schedule with slacking off. Yes, you'd rather watch the third Harry Potter movie (for the fourth time) while its on a marathon instead of finishing that essay, but then again, that essay is due at midnight tonight. The key to keeping your head when employed and still in school, is balance. Finding the right time and duration to focus on both work and school will give you the stability and self-assurance you need to break through your obstacles and be a well-rounded and experienced individual.