How To Continue Your Education As A Busy Entrepreneur
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Continuing your education while working as an entrepreneur is not an effortless task — whether you’re studying full-time, part-time, or are engaged in self-education. Nonetheless, there are many dramatic benefits to continuing your education while working on your business.
Certain forms of education — such as studying for a degree like a Masters in Science in Management via NEC Online — can directly shape the future of your career, either by giving you the skills you need to develop your business, or by giving you the professional credentials that will help you to branch out and encompass more of your areas of interest and expertise.
Other forms — such as meticulously reading books related to your industry or professional and personal development in general, or else doing diploma courses online from websites like Coursera — will help in less immediately tangible ways, but can transform your professional life nonetheless by making you that much more dynamic and lucid.
The only issue is actually managing to balance your entrepreneurial workday with your educational routine, so as to give both their due, and not find yourself having to deal with a failed business or a dropped degree, because you had too much on your plate.
Here are some tips for successfully continuing your education while working as an entrepreneur.
Schedule your time ruthlessly
Being a successful entrepreneur already requires a good deal of proficiency in managing your time and sticking to a schedule. Being a successful entrepreneur while also being a successful student, however, requires you to be completely on-point with your time-management
One of the key ways of achieving this is by scheduling your days out in vivid detail, using services such as Google Calendar which allow you to create “time blocks” throughout the day, dedicated to different tasks.
When time is short, and there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, plotting how you’re going to use those precious hours in advance allows for an infinitely greater degree of productivity than winging it and chasing deadlines when they inevitably loom large.
Reduce your stress hormone production to increase your focus and work capacity
Chronic stress isn’t just a mental state, it’s a physiological state as well, dominated by hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In acute survival circumstances, these stress hormones help to give us the quick push we need in order to either run or fight. Hence the term “fight or flight”.
When our stress hormone levels are chronically high, however, the consequences can be absolutely devastating, ranging from the deterioration of the brain and other organs, to the collapse of the immune system.
Keeping your stress hormone levels under control on a daily basis is essential for your health, but it’s also essential for your ability to focus, and to shoulder a heavy workload without breaking down.
There are various things which contribute to keeping stress hormone production under control. Eating enough daily calories and not allowing yourself to grow hungry is one big factor, as is consuming a sufficient number of carbohydrates each day (yes, those low carb diets may make you slim, but they can also wreak havoc on your hormones), and getting enough sleep.
Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and amphetamine (think Adderall) also typically lead to dramatic, chronic increases in stress hormones, so cutting back on your use of these can only help in the long term.
Become a queen of resisting procrastination
It’s one thing to plan out your day on the calendar, but it’s quite another thing to stick to those time blocks you’ve laid out, and not fall prey to procrastination.
Procrastination is, as the saying goes, the thief of time — and time is one thing you can’t afford to have stolen from you while you’re trying to balance an ongoing education with an entrepreneurial venture.
Of course, it’s easier said than done to actually overcome procrastination, but there are various tricks and techniques you can use to help you out.
One is taking up a regular meditation practice (as there is evidence that meditation improves concentration and focus). Another is to stay well fed, as mentioned above. More specifically, you can keep a sheet of paper or a notebook with you as you work, and write down a note every time you feel compelled to stray from the task.
If you felt like Googling “cute dogs”, for example, write down “Google cute dogs”. This may seem a bit silly, but it will help to create a gap between the compulsion and the action, and will also reassure your mind that you can always follow up on this “important idea” later. This technique can prove surprisingly effective.
Wake up early
What do you tend to do more of when you stay up late? Do you work, or do you surf the web, listen to music, and kill time?
For many — if not most — people, mornings are simply a more productive time of day than evenings. In the evening, our bodies are winding down for bed and releasing the sleep hormone melatonin. We become tired and sluggish, and we naturally feel like the work of the day is behind us, even if we have more to do.
For this reason, staying up late in order to work is typically a pretty poor productivity strategy. Waking up early, on the other hand, has the potential to radically transform how we use our time and how productive we are during the day.
A person who wakes up at 5:00 in the morning may have as many as three or even four hours at their disposal before the working day officially begins for them. Not only does this mean that an early riser gets a major head start on the competition, it also means that they may well get more done by midday than most people do over the course of an entire 9-5.
These early morning hours are, for all intents and purposes, “free hours” — time that we have at our disposal before other people start making daily demands on us.
This time can either be used for studying or working, but it should be capitalized on one way or the other.