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At Flatiron School, when you choose to learn to code online, you choose from three different pacing options: full-time, part-time or self-paced. Each pace offers the same curriculum, but prescribes differently weekly time commitments fit for different types of learners and lifestyles. Childcare, family commitments, keeping your day job, physical limitations: these factors all play a role in how you decide to change your career. Our different pacing options offer an opportunity to change your career at your own pace and balance life’s responsibilities.
Sara, based in West Virginia and studying part-time in Flatiron School’s Online Software Engineering program, shares her tips, as well as her daily schedule, to show how she balances mom-life and student-life:
What are things that are important parts of your life (family, working out, hobbies) outside of school? When do you make time for them?
Family time is something that I prioritize. Every day there are moments within our routine to spend time together. Evenings after dinner are only used for lessons if I am behind, missed daytime study times due to an appointment, or am struggling with a particular topic.
Reading is also a passion of mine. I leisure read a little every day. Sometimes in the mornings if I wake entirely too early or late at night before bed. Weekly, Thursday evenings are our trivia nights. This allows my husband and I to have time away from our daughter with our friends on a regular basis. Friday nights are extended family dinner nights where we all get together and enjoy each other’s company.
How do you stay productive studying online? Do you have tips for staying on task?
I treat my Flatiron studies like a job. I schedule morning and afternoon focus sessions. I typically work five hours a day, five days a week on my lessons.
Accountability partners and check-ins are a great way to get some good peer pressure to hold yourself accountable, while also acting as a sounding board when you are attempting to tackle too much or not enough.
Pomodoro timers. These are great for ensuring you don’t lose focus and allow yourself breaks.
Trello. I use a Trello focus board for the week’s tasks in conjunction with my Pomodoro timer. Visually seeing my tasks helps me to stay on task as well as better adjust my daily goals.
What tools and resources do you use to maximize productivity and progress?
Trello, Pomello (Pomodoro Timer), Fantastical (Calendar), GitHub (for notes, written in Markdown), Spotify, Slack, 1:1 with my cohort lead and educational coach
What’s your favorite best thing about studying online?
One of the best things is the lack of a school commute. I’m a disabled individual and some days are much more difficult than others to get around. Studying online allows me to study from wherever I am most comfortable. Online studying removes a barrier for me.
Second, I am in complete control of my day. If I’m sick, I can take the day off or simply work whenever I have the energy. If my daughter is sick, the same applies. The online track allows me to self-manage and respects my personal schedule without sacrificing family time and obligations.
Sara’s Daily Schedule
7:30am - 8:00am: I wake up and make my bed. It’s a great way to start the day with a sense of accomplishment.
8:00am - 8:30am: Coffee. The whole morning coffee routine invigorates me. I then get myself and my two-year-old ready for the day, have morning time with her and leisure read if she’s playing independently.
8:30am - 9:00am: I check my calendar for a list of tasks/appointments for the day and have a quick debriefing with my husband about our goals and plans for the day.
9am - 1:30pm: I study and go through Flatiron School lessons while my daughter has quiet time.
1:30pm - 3pm: Lunch! I stop lessons and enjoy lunch with my daughter, focusing on whatever activities she’s interested in for the day: playing, reading her books, painting, etc.
3:00pm - 5:30pm: I continue Flatiron School lessons while my daughter naps.
5:30pm - 6:00pm: I begin making dinner and wake my daughter.
6:00pm - 7:00pm: If it’s a Tuesday, I eat dinner while watching live lectures with Flatiron School. Otherwise, we eat dinner as a family.
7:30pm - 8:30pm: We have family time after dinner.
8:30pm - 10pm: Afterwards, I put my daughter to bed, resume lessons if I feel I need to accomplish more, and then spend some quality time with my husband before bed.
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