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Fitting postgraduate study into a busy life

In this article, we’ve put together some tips for balancing study and work to help guide you.

The modern-day student has many double lives. They can be a working professional, a parent, an avid traveller, carers, and much more! You may then ask yourself ‘how do they have time to fit studying into their daily routine?’ Whether you’re returning to study after a long break or continuing on to postgraduate study, it can be tricky finding the time to balance your study with your other commitments. However, the reward will be worth the challenge.

Many postgraduate students constantly challenge the belief there’s little time to fit postgraduate study into an already jam-packed schedule. In this article, we’ve put together some tips for balancing study and work to help guide you.

1. Plan ahead

Plan months ahead. Check what social events and work obligations you have coming up and how they’d fit in with your study plan. You can create checklists or use your calendar on your phone – anything that helps you to keep track and stay organised. This also assists you to manage your expectations to ensure you’re able to stay on top of your coursework while maintaining your other commitments. It also helps with prioritising, being productive and realistic about the time you need to dedicate to studying. Remember that planning ahead helps with managing stress!

2. Look after yourself

It’s important you make time to look after yourself to avoid feeling overly stressed and rundown. Remember to take breaks and focus your energy on something different like exercising or meditating. This helps to clear your cognitive functions and improve your focus and concentration. Don’t forget to ensure you’re getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

3. Talk to important people in your life

If you’re working full-time or even part-time while studying, having a support system can make a whole world of difference.

It’s a wise idea to update your boss on your studies – especially if what you’re studying relates to your profession and personal development. They may be able to offer support in terms of being flexible during assessment and exam periods.

Talk to your friends and family. They can offer you the emotional support you need. They can also give you a helping hand when needed. For example, helping with childcare or sometimes you just need a soundboard, and they can be that person for you.

4. Think about your end goal

Are you working towards a promotion? Or perhaps you’re looking to move your career in a different direction, or wanting to provide more for your family. Look at the big picture and remind yourself of why you’re studying. This will keep you motivated to achieving your ultimate end goal – graduating. Be prepared to make sacrifices (this can be a tough one!). You may need to say no to a social activity or hold back on a hobby temporarily, but sacrificing a small amount of downtime can make a huge difference when it comes to finding time to study.

5. Study support

Don’t feel as if you need to embark on this journey alone. Whether it’s online resources such as webinars or an online community, student support services or joining a group study session, look for what resources you have available and take advantage of them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Importantly, where you study can have an impact on your productivity level. Find a place that helps improve your concentration or focus, and minimise distractions such as your mobile phone or television.

6. Be realistic

It’s hard work trying to balance your study with your professional commitments, so be honest with how much you’re capable of taking on and the time it may take to reach your goal. Even if it takes you a little longer than expected to finish your course, in the end, you did it. Don’t forget to reward yourself for reaching the small goals and schedule in some well-deserved relaxation time!

Everyone has different study techniques that work for them, so find what suits you and start from there. It’s important to reflect on your own personal style of studying and continually balance and adjust accordingly.

What techniques or routines are helping you throughout your postgraduate study? We encourage you to comment and share below!


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