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I have worked with adult learners for over twenty years.  During my time as an instructor, mentor and advisor, I’ve found the importance for adult learners to remember that it is not always possible to do everything. The below list is meant to lighten your day and to help keep an open perspective that you are not alone. We acknowledge that balancing a job, your family and now your studies, is not easy and that you can give yourself permission not to get all items on your to-do list done.

5 Things That You May Not Get Done On Your To-Do List

  1. Cleaning your closets.  Many of you clean your closets once or twice a year or refer to spring cleaning as a national holiday.  Be prepared - you may not get your closet cleaned this year.  Remember the rule that your children may have used on you, “as long as I can shut the closet door, it is clean.”  Yes, we all want clean and organized closets, but it can wait until you have that research paper handed in by 11:59 pm on Sunday night or a break between the terms.

  2. Laundry. Many of you may be like me, it is a rarity if I do not do at least one load of clothes a day.  A family of 6 seems to create a load of towels daily. You can lower your standards and do a load of laundry on days that your posts or responses are not due.  On the bright side, laundry is also one of those tasks that allows you to read a chapter or two between the washing and drying cycles.  Multi-tasking as an adult learner is an essential survival skill. 

  3. Grocery shopping. Yes, we all need to eat.  Consider this time while you are going back to college as an opportunity for your family to eat those items in the pantry, you know the ones pushed a little further back.  However, I would still check the expiration dates.  Who knows, you and your family may have a new found love for green beans and a can of cream of mushroom soup.  However, don’t skip on your meals. You still need the nourishment for your body and mind to assist in your learning.

  4. Present shopping and celebrations. Life should be filled with little celebrations, and you don’t want to forget anyone’s special day.  Don’t forget the convenience of online shopping.  Amazon Prime delivers free in two days.  Gift bags are an easy way to make any gift look great.  Have a few gift bags and tissue on hand and you can have a gift wrapped as you are walking out of the door.  Amazon Prime is not only great for saving time, it is also a great source to purchase textbooks with free shipping.  It only takes a few textbooks and your membership before year pays for itself.  As an adult learner, you also need to celebrate the little things.  Refrigerators are not just for grocery lists and kids projects, they are a place to celebrate your A on that research paper!

  5. Sleep. I cannot lie, you may get a little less sleep than you’re ordinarily accustomed to receiving.  By far, many adult students state that their best and most productive work is done after everyone in their home is in bed or early in the morning when no one is awake.  Taking time to sleep and take care of yourself, is important for your academic success.

Being an adult learner is not always easy, but the rewards far outweigh the “not dones” on your to do list. At Northwestern, we walk alongside students in support of their academic pursuits. We admire your diligence and tenacity to improve your life by continuing your education.  We are proud of your accomplishments – we’re with you every step of the way! Connect with Kaylyn or Crystal if you're interested in more information about the Northwestern online programs. 

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