As a massage therapy instructor, I have known many students who had a genuine desire to complete school but could not effectively manage their time to accommodate both school and work. One of my crusades as an instructor is assisting students in discovering how to balance these two responsibilities successfully.
The first major barrier for students to overcome is improper expectations. Often, massage therapy students begin classes without understanding that massage therapy school is like any other school, complete with homework, quizzes and exams. I first assist them in clearly defining their workload, along with the time commitment involved in completing their education.
After establishing time expectations, I coach students on preparing a time budget. Many massage therapy students are prone to procrastination and are unable to perform well employing the "cram session" technique. I teach them how to create a time budget that successfully creates a healthy balance of home, work and school.
Here are four time-management techniques for busy students.
1. Study during your commute. One great study technique is to record lectures and play them on your daily commutes. A commute of 2 to 3 hours is not uncommon these days, and this precious time can be well spent listening to an instructor's lecture.
2. Use the association method. Compare the material you're studying to something or someone you're familiar with to help make the information make more sense. For example, when teaching Chinese 5-element theory, I coach students to associate each element with someone they know.
3. Learn the art of the outline. At the end of each class, take 10 to 15 minutes to create a one-page outline of the material given in that session. Over time, you will have several small outlines to review as opposed to a daunting textbook.
4. Take full advantage of your hands-on practical experience. Instead of passively performing massages with no clear intention, have your books open, refer to them and practice specific techniques with each massage. Since the majority of massage therapy students are tactile learners, the hands-on experience will make the most impact in their learning.
Balancing school and work need not be an arduous task. With clear expectations, an effective time budget and efficient study techniques, you can create a healthy balance.