How To Effectively Manage Your Time Between Family And Studying. Advice from Industry Experts and Senior Lecturer

Advice from MSc in Digital Marketing graduate Geraint Holliman

Perseverance 

Managing the demand on your time that a Master’s degree has, I’m not going to deny it it’s difficult. When I did it I was at a particular life stage, I had a young family, I had a business, I had ageing relatives. It was tricky. There were times when I thought, “Well, I don’t think I’ve got the time to continue,” but I did. I had some family deaths and that really knocked me for six. However, I decided that it was worth doing, I was going to go through it because the outcomes were going to be really, really useful.

Have an agreement

In terms of the practicalities of it all, there is no doubt that you have to have an agreement with your loved ones, that you are going to be absent for hours at a time. You have that conversation beforehand so that they know, and you work around it and say, ‘Maybe one Sunday in four, I won’t be doing this work’. The other thing I also found is that I had to demarcate time that I was going to do the work, and I had to stick to it because that was the time that I’d set aside to do the work. That really helped me.

“It’s not overwhelming. You just have to manage it into your day to day life”

It was a real discipline and I’m not saying it was easy in the first year, but by the time I got into the second year, I’d worked out a way of saying to my family, ‘That’s when I’m going to do this work’. Therefore, they could then go off and do other things or find other things to do and then I would come back and we’d do the family stuff. You do have to be disciplined. If you’re the kind of person that take things a bit free and easy, you might find yourself struggling with the commitment. It’s a commitment, right? But it’s not overwhelming. You just have to manage it into your day to day life. I’m not the kind of person that naturally does that, so the discipline of actually demarcating time that was for the MSc really, really helped me.

Balancing kids and studying

Advice from Manchester Metropolitan University Senior Lecturer Allie Johns and Industry Expert Mike Baxter

Follow sessions at your own pace

Women in digital, I wish that I didn’t have to say that because as we know there are lots of brilliant women in digital. People like Martha Lane Fox inspire me. The point about being a woman in digital, I think, is why is it any different? I suppose the most important thing to think about is if you are working and you have children, and you’re trying to fit your studies around your children then that shouldn’t disadvantage you in any way. The way that this programme is structured is it gives you that time. I fully appreciate that when you do have kids that it’s hard to juggle life, children, study, but the way in which this particular course is structured, it allows you to follow the expert sessions at your own pace.

Ask questions when you need

We also have the followup sessions, which are run at convenient times. Plus the ongoing and the ever-present discourse platform, which allows you to ask questions and dip in and out as and when you want to. Therefore, my advice to you would be, don’t be put off by that. Feel supported by the structure of the programme, the fact that you have people on hand in a virtual environment to support you along the way and to really go for it. It might be, for example, you’re getting to the point where your children are about to go to school and you have more time during the day that you can allocate to yourself.

So the women in digital thing, this programme is all about getting more of us into the world of digital. There is no prejudice here at all. These are processes, brilliant ways of thinking and working that anyone can apply and anyone can do. I would just throw that out to you and say, if you think you can’t, you can.