Following academic and professional pursuits together stresses me out. How to manage both?

"Last year, I put my studies on the back burner, as I had to focus on finding work and securing a job," says a stressed professional

Haya Malik

Hi Haya,

I'm a content writer in my 20s who's working in one of the biggest media houses in Karachi and am also pursuing further education simultaneously.

Last year, I put my studies on the back burner, as I had to focus on finding work and securing a job. I intend to re-commence my studies, but I'm quite nervous and stressed out about my ability to effectively achieve my academic goals (coupled with unrealistic perfectionist tendencies and an overwhelming fear of failure) — something which has, in fact, previously caused severe brain fog, which then had adverse effects on my productivity — both academic and professional.

Kindly provide some guidance as to how I can overcome this issue, achieve my goals, maintain my productivity and manage work and time (mentally).

— A stressed content writer

Following academic and professional pursuits together stresses me out. How to manage both?

Dear stressed content writer,

Congratulations on working on one of the biggest media houses in Karachi. I commend your ambition and dedication, considering the challenges that come along with it. Juggling work and studies can be no easy task and it's commendable to hear you doing so.

It's commendable that you're recognising these challenges and seeking guidance to overcome them.

To re-commence your studies, to be able to maintain performance at work and school, achieve your goals, maintain productivity, and manage work and time (mentally). Here are some insights and strategies that might help:

Time management. To juggle two things at one time management is critical. Allotting certain times for studies and certain time for work.

Structuring and managing your time is critical in being able to get work done and maintain balance.

Focus on single tasking: During the allotted time set for work and studies, focus on one task at a time instead of jumping between tasks in a rapid succession.

Approach goals: Shift your focus from avoidance goals (what you want to avoid) to approach goals (what you want to achieve). For instance, instead of fearing failure, set goals related to learning, improvement, and progress.

Set realistic expectations: Understand that outcomes won’t always align perfectly with your expectations. That’s okay! Prepare mentally for different scenarios. Even if things don’t go as planned, find value in the experience.

Work on perfectionism: Perfectionism often stems from a fear of failure and not feeling good enough about yourself. Your triggers are your teachers, and they come up to show you the work that is to be done and healed from. Explore your fear of failure, where its coming from, how its serving you and how it may be contributing to your feelings of over whelm and brain fog. Take this opportunity to work on improving the relationship you have with yourself and work towards creating shedding the old belief systems you have formed about yourself and forming new ones.

Develop growth/solution-oriented mindset: A growth mindset looks at opportunity and learnings in every setback, every experience and every failure/win vs a fixed mindset where you feel like nothing can change and believe that success or failure is primarily determined by innate qualities, where challenges are avoided, and we easily give up in the face of obstacles.

Stress management and self care: Managing stress is critical in dealing with brain fog and ensuring you remain healthy physically, mentally and emotionally to thrive at your optimum. Focus on the basics. Get enough rest, eat well, sleep well and exercise. Additionally, what else enables you to manage your stress. Do that.

Self-compassion: One of the most critical ones on our journey towards growth. Celebrate your victories along the way and show yourself compassion for the times you feel otherwise.

Best of luck on your journey and remember the only person who needs to believe in yourself is YOU.

In addition, if you find it difficult to cope up with all of the above, I encourage you to work with a therapist / coach.

(Remember half our journeys are won when we seek support)


Following academic and professional pursuits together stresses me out. How to manage both?

Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.

Send her your questions to [email protected]

Note: The advice and opinions above are those of the author and specific to the query. We strongly recommend our readers consult relevant experts or professionals for personalised advice and solutions. The author and do not assume any responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on the information provided herein. All published pieces are subject to editing to enhance grammar and clarity.