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Balancing commitments as a postgraduate student

One of the best (and worst) things about postgrad life is that your schedule is largely up to you. While you must commit to your deadlines, how you reach them and how much time you spend day-to-day working on your degree is your choice. On top of that, you must also try and fit in your social life and possibly a job into the limited hours of your day. With so many demands on your time, how you schedule yourself can be the difference between having the best few years and the worst few years of your life! Balancing your commitments is the most important part of postgraduate life, and because of that we’re giving you a guide with the four golden rules of time management for postgraduates.

Follow these rules and you will find yourself able to complete your work while having fun – guaranteed!


#1 Your social life is important

Many postgraduate students are dedicated to a fault, meaning they spend most of their time working on their degree and doing little else. While this is admirable, it is a recipe for crashing and burning. Hours spent alone typing up research may be fulfilling, but everybody needs a little human contact every now and then to appreciate life and remain sane. Even if it is something small like ringing home or having coffee with a friend, try and make sure you do something ‘ social’ once a day or at the very least once every other day. If going out for the night with friends helps to clear your mind, then it should make your degree better – not distract from it. There are other benefits too: people you meet as a postgrad may turn into ‘contacts’ you need when you’re in the working world.

Balancing your commitments

#2 Don’t let a job ruin your studies

Having money and being able to get by is important, but there is no point studying for a postgraduate degree if you are going to let the quality of your work be affected by how many hours your spend at your job. If possible, minimise your job working hours to the absolutely minimum you can to get by. If you’re struggling, then minimise your outgoings instead of trying to maximise your income. If there was ever a time in your life to be poor, now is it. Tighten your belt and suffer for your work a little – it will be worth it when your postgraduate degree helps you get a real job with a real income.

#3 Having fun can help you study

In the same vein as rule 1, it is important to have fun as a postgraduate. This is likely to be the last time you will ever be a student, so why not enjoy it while you can? Working hard at your degree is great, but the way to prevent burning out is to make sure you have breaks and set periods when you just kick back and relax. Try keep at least one day of the weekend for yourself and your pleasure if you can – but if that’s not an option try to squeeze good stuff into your study breaks. It doesn’t need to be revolutionary: playing for a couple of hours on your PlayStation 3 can do wonders to relieve stress!

#4 All play and no work is a recipe for disaster!

While the first three rules warn against doing too much work, too much play can be just as dangerous. While most postgraduate students understand what they’ve signed up for and do not need to be told this rule, there are a few people that may need reminding. Make sure you are assigning enough time in your day to your degree, so that things get done when they need to be done. You’re probably paying an enormous amount of money for your degree, so don’t waste it by partying all night and sleeping all day. We noted earlier that fun is needed in doses to help you function – but don’t overdo it, remember you need to keep your priorities in order and get the balance right.


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