If you already work in the HVAC field, you’re excited to attend an HVAC technical school and give yourself a leg up in the field. Once you have more hands-on experience, certifications, and HVAC skills, you’ll become more marketable and successful, as well as better prepared to expand your career.
However, you also know that attending school can become challenging. If you already have a full-time HVAC job, you don’t have a lot of time to spare. At times, balancing the demands of work, school, and family can seem overwhelming.
But you don’t need to give up hope yet: it’s possible to succeed at school, spend time with your family, and still satisfy customers at work. Read our blog below for tips that will help you manage competing demands and get the most out of your school experience.
1. Start with Realistic Expectations
You knew when you started the program that you’d have less time to devote to other areas of your life. Before the semester starts, figure out exactly how much time per week you’ll spend on school. How long are your classes? How many hours of homework do you expect to do outside of class? Feel free to contact your future teachers if you don’t know for sure what they expect.
Once you know how many hours you should devote to school, you can make concrete changes to your typical schedule for the next few weeks or months. You might need to look into child care for a few hours a day or talk to your boss about creating a more flexible schedule.
Find schedule changes your family and employer can make over the next few weeks or months, then stick to them as best you can.
2. Stay Organized
It’s easy to become scatterbrained when you manage so many priorities. To stay on top of it all, stay organized. Keep your school materials separate from your work materials. Clearly label notebooks and folders for different classes. Store class notes and handouts in binders instead of leaving them on the counter.
You should also stay on top of upcoming class deadlines. Mark them on a calendar so you don’t forget, and start planning for them in advance.
3. Reduce and Manage Stress
On their own, work and school are very stressful. Since you will do both at the same time, you’ll likely feel stressed out. As a result, you should do what you can to reduce the amount of stress in other areas of your life. For instance, you should feel free to say no to extra work. If your friend asks if you have time to help with a neighborhood project, turn them down politely. You’re not obligated to take on more than you can handle.
You can also reduce stress by practicing good time management skills. Create a schedule and stick to it. Complete homework on time instead of procrastinating.
Sometimes, though, you can’t reduce stress no matter what. On a given day, you might have to turn in an assignment, attend class, and complete a certain amount of work. To deal with these situations, learn how to manage your stress. Try these coping strategies:
- Exercise. Even a 15 minute jog around the neighborhood can help you feel better.
- Stay positive. You’ll be surprised how much your attitude changes things.
- Eat healthy foods. Cut back on sugary snacks and sodas.
- Learn meditation or other relaxation techniques.
- Spend time each week doing something you really enjoy.
- Spend time with your family members and loved ones whenever possible.
Since everyone is different, certain coping strategies that work for others might not work for you. Experiment to see what works best for you. A counselor or therapist can also help you find personalized coping strategies.
4. Create a Support System
You can’t balance school, work, and family by yourself—and the good news is you don’t have to. Talk to your family, friends, and teachers about your concerns and ask for help. Build up a support system of people who can help when you feel discouraged.
Don’t feel ashamed to accept help. If a trustworthy relative offers to pick your daughter up from school or your neighbor volunteers to walk your dog, let them. They want you to succeed as much as you do; it’s okay to let them help in whatever ways they can.
5. Remember Why You Went to School in the First Place
If you start to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, go back to the basics: why did you start school to begin with? Maybe you wanted the credentials and certifications to increase your income. Maybe you wanted a stronger skillset to expand your career options. Or perhaps you simply wanted to learn more about a career you’re already passionate about.
Whatever the reason, let it motivate you to push through and finish the job. At the end of the road, you’ll be grateful you did.
Follow these five steps to make your HVAC technical school experience as pleasant as it can be. With the tips from this blog and support from your family, friends, and teachers, you’ll be able to balance competing demands while making the most of your school experience.