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I am working a full time job as a software engineer. I am also doing masters in computer science. I don't have to take any classes this year as I have completed my coursework.

I work from 10 to 7 in my office. But when I go home I am too tired to study.I have my weekends free.

I can study on my weekends but the problem is I think I would eventually get tired of doing this. It would burn me out if I don't take two days off in a week. Ofcourse I can study in the morning or at night. Maybe even on weekends.

How can I manage this to maximize my productivity so that I perform well both on my job as well as my research and don't get sick of either one. Please help me.

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Why don't you just pick a time to study and see what happens? You're not exactly pushing the envelope here on your time commitment. –  JeffO Mar 25 '13 at 19:43
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It would help to know your sleep requirements (hours per night), what time you get up, and what you do with the remaining hours (besides weekends). If you feel too tired after work, a short walk or a quick nap could give you the boost you need to study. –  Bernhard Hofmann Mar 25 '13 at 20:55
    
Try to sleep 1-1.5 hours after work. Then you will be able to do the research at 21:00 - 01:00. –  colge Mar 25 '13 at 23:00

5 Answers 5

I do consulting during the day, and run an online business on the side (evenings and weekend) and I learned a few things to help me get enough energy in the evenings:

  1. I play video games for 30 minutes, or watch a tv series: as counter intuitive as it seems, video games will give you an adrenaline kick that will refresh you. I noticed that tv series with lots of action work too. Of course, you need to be disciplined and timebox this activity.

  2. Reserve some evenings every week: For example, you commit to work on your research every monday / wednesday / friday between 7pm and 11pm. By having set times, it will prevent you to accept your friends' invitations to go out. (It works with doing sport too)

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I think you'll have to find a way to enjoy your research. I remember reading a blog post by a programmer who'd wake up at 5am everyday to code for two hours. He wrote -

Enjoying the work is key

It's 5am and I will be also putting in a full day's work afterwards. Not being stressed out or frustrated during this time is essential. I ensure this by working on truly personal projects that interest me and I have complete control over. I'm only two weeks in but so far no signs of getting worn out, in fact quite the opposite. It's been pretty invigorating.

And then this interview of a guy building a PHP webframework -

I don’t have any other side projects right now. Laravel consumes most of my development free time and I only work on the framework after my wife and kids go to bed. So my development time on Laravel starts at about 10pm and wraps up at midnight, allowing me to work on it for a couple of hours per day without detriment to friends and family.

Later on he advises people to enjoy whatever they are working on.

So key here is to be excited about what extra work you do. What is your research area? Does that excite you, or are there parts of it which are interesting? Maybe you could try building something using your research, something that would be enjoyable to build.

Pick a time, and stick to it. Find a way to make your research exciting.

And try to eat well and keep yourself fit - 10 hour work day + a couple of hours studying will take its toll on you.

I guess that is about it.

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I've been doing this for several months now (working fulltime and doing masters research/thesis writing).

My suggestions:

  • Figure out when your brain is at an "optimal" level. Some people it's 5am. Some people it's 10pm. Figure this out, because you are going to need to know this. Not all hours are created equal and when you lose a bunch every week to fulltime work you absolutely must figure out when you are good at this. Mine are 3-5pm and 7-10pm. I can't use the 3-5pm but absolutely must use the other.
  • Block off extended periods of time. It takes a "warm up" period to get "into the zone" writing.
  • Block out distractions. Turn off the internet. Get headphones. But you NEED to get into a zone, especially for writing. Which is ironic as I post here while I should be writing... :-)
  • Don't sacrifice physical health
  • Take time to decompress, whatever that is. But learn what 'good rest' vs 'bad rest' is for you.
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If you want to manage your job and your degree, don't worry about being sick of them, but put in the effort until you have achieved your goal-which in this case is going to be gaining your degree.

If you are only working 10-7 five days a week you have lots of spare time. What are you currently doing with it? Many of the teams I have worked in have used > 100 hours a week, so you should look at preparing yourself for working at a higher intensity.

Prioritisation is key here. If you want the degree, work for it. If you don't, stop worrying:-)

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Personally I know when I'm going to have relatively free time at work. Suppose you have task with deadline at 11am. Very often deadlines are estimated including some extra time. If you will manage to do work at 10am then you will have one extra time for self-study. Also you can estimate tasks to a larger scale, again to have that free time, but that all depends on management. Anyway, do main tasks fast and you will have extra-time.

EDIT Ahh.. I almost forgot that main source of time! I have two little children so when I come home after work I can't afford myself to do self-study. The solution is very simple - I wake up at 5am - 5.30am. The head is clear and optimized for study at morning. Believe me ))

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The problem is I can't study in my office even if I am free.I have to keep a busy appearance all the time –  zzzzz Mar 28 '13 at 5:13
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Hey, software engineer means you are sitting in front of monitor and pressing keys. Taking masters in computer science means you are sitting in front of monitor and pressing keys. What's the problem of mimicking one to other? 8) –  nikita Mar 28 '13 at 5:24
    
software engineer means I am sitting in front of a monitor pressing keys.Taking masters means I am sitting and reading research papers while doing nothing :) –  zzzzz Mar 28 '13 at 5:28
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@iOsBoy edited answer –  nikita Mar 28 '13 at 5:34
    
5 am ??? I am imperssed :) –  zzzzz Mar 28 '13 at 5:36

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