For many nurses, going back to school is a challenge. Trying to find enough time in a day seems impossible and sustaining that commitment long enough to finish a degree program is daunting.

But there are ways to find the time you need to go back to school. If you are flexible enough and diligent enough, you can make it happen.

Here are five ways you can squeeze more out of the minutes you’ve got to work with.

1. Get Clear About Your Goal

Going back to school takes time and effort. For some people, it takes a little more of both, especially when it’s someone who has lots of other obligations. But if you fix your sights on your end goal and decide that whatever sacrifice you have to make in the next couple of years will get you there, then it won’t seem so unmanageable. Just keep telling yourself, it is not going to be this way forever.

2. Don’t Go It Alone

There’s no doubt about it – life is busy. If you’re working, have family obligations, or other things demanding your time, you are going to need some help to return back to school successfully. The first step is accepting it, the second step is finding it. If you have a job, see if you can find a program that works around your schedule. If you have kids, see if a friend or relative will care for them – offer to swap childcare during other times. If you spend hours every week cooking, designate at least one or two nights as a pizza and bagged salad night or at least just cook something quick like ravioli or eggs with toast.

3. Find a Flexible Program

Nursing programs are becoming increasingly flexible to accommodate all the different time constraints of nursing students. Look around for a program where you can take night classes or even weekend-only classes. There might be a way to sign up for classes that meet early in the morning or later at night. Search around and see what you can find.

4. Look at Your Schedule

You can’t earn a degree without some juggling. It might seem like you don’t have a spare second, but charting out your days will help uncover the small chunks of time that you might have available. For one week, track your time – when you are working, cooking, exercising, watching television, caring for family, etc. It’s a long process, but you might find out that you have more free time than you think. That can help you put your plan into perspective. And see if you can be more flexible with what you are willing to shift around. If getting up earlier can give you time to study, it can bring your goal that much closer to reality.

5. Talk to Academic Advising

It can’t be said enough – when in doubt, turn to your school’s academic advising office. They are there to help you figure out how you can be successful at school, and they want nothing more than to see you get your degree. Talk to them about your time constraints or your concerns about finishing your degree. You might be surprised at the ways they can help you figure out just how you can make your dreams become your reality.

If going back to school is one of your dreams, but you don’t know where to find the time, don’t despair. With some priority shifting, time management, and reorganizing how you spend your time, you can do it.

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Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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