Burnout Busters: How To Balance Life & Study As A Postgraduate Student

If all university students can agree on one thing, it’s that burnout is real. 

The university is hardcore. This is especially true when you’re a postgrad student. The novelty of being an adult and studying something you love has started to wear off and you don’t have the energy to deal with everything anymore. 

Studying seems to take up every ounce of time and energy you have. How exactly does one find enough hours in the day to study, attend lectures, revise, sleep, eat, socialize, exercise, spend time with loved ones, practice hobbies, and relax? And what happens if you have to work on top of all that? Boom. Burnout.

Burnout leaves you unproductive, overwhelmed, cynical, hopeless, and drained of energy and life. And filled with resentment at those first-year undergrads who can party all night, eat nothing but noodles, and still have the energy to study, socialize, and work. Yep, postgrad life is a barrel of fun and laughs.

There are ways to get around burnout and successfully juggle studying with other aspects of your life. It just takes some organization and strategic thinking.

Consider Alternative Methods of Studying

University can be all-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. As a postgrad, you’re already fairly familiar with university life and don’t need to be babysat all the time. You may consider studying online as an alternative to physically attending on-campus.

Studying online offers more flexibility and freedom. Not only can you choose your own hours, but you can listen to lectures or watch tutorials while cooking, running errands, caring for your kids, or in the car on the way to work. You can squeeze in studying whenever it suits you, whether that’s 8 hours a day or a tiny bit after dinner.

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Often, studying isn’t even the main cause of burnout. It can be caused by finding your way to campus, rushing around to a million classes, trying to remember the names of all those teachers and students, and being surrounded by sensory input. You could do away with most of that by studying from home.

Getting an education masters online has never been easier. Imagine spending some time in your comfiest clothes, studying whenever and wherever suits you, never having to make small talk or navigate public transport on the way to campus, and ending up with a Masters’s degree.  You can tailor your studying even more to meet your needs by studying part-time online.

Better yet, maximize your time by blending part-time study and work. If you’re on your way to becoming a teacher, working in a relevant field where you can use your new knowledge immediately is a great way to make a living until graduation. Besides, having connections in the field will give you a leg-up.

Schedule Time to Rest

Seriously. If you don’t pick a time to relax, your body will do it for you. If you force yourself to keep going when you’re totally overworked you’ll end up run-down and sick, with a foggy brain and poor mental health. 

When scheduling your days, weeks or months, include time to decompress. Whether that means getting coffee with friends or taking a nap, your body and brain need time to chill. Think of yourself as a car. No matter how much petrol- or, in the case of postgrad students, coffee- you pour into it, it won’t stop making that concerning noise until you pull off the freeway and see a mechanic. 

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It can be difficult to muster up the courage to ask for time off, but you can reduce burnout slightly with small, less time-consuming tasks. Take a power nap. Take a walk or jog. Take a shower. These things can take only 20 minutes of your day.

Don’t think of resting as wasted time. Think of it as similar to recharging your phone. You can’t function if you’re not recharged! 

Study Strategically & Plan Well

Ok, so resting is fun, but there’s no way to get around having to do all that work. However, there are ways to make studying less confusing and overwhelming.

Now is a great time to get super good at organization and time management. You can make it fun with color coding doodles and cute stationery- as long as your organizational system is functional. Try to stick to a schedule.

Map out your life over the course of your postgrad degree. Your study units or modules, your personal commitments, your goals, your hobbies, and all of the things that make up your life. Think about how much time you need to dedicate to each aspect. 

Audit your time and sort out your priorities. Additionally, put the word out that you’ll be super busy and identify your support network. If you have a job, they may even offer support, especially if your degree is relevant to your current job.

One important factor is to break up your work into bite-sized chunks. You can’t digest a whole module at once. Do a little at a time and chart your progress. Pace yourself and take little breaks regularly.

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Remember to study smarter, not harder. Busy work won’t pay off in the long run. Refine your note-taking technique, studying method, and revision tricks, but don’t expect perfection from yourself. Be realistic and give yourself some credit. Good enough is good enough.

Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. For a postgrad student, it may be the difference between completing your degree and giving up due to severe burnout.

Most importantly, remember why you’re studying. It can be hard to stay motivated, but envision your life after you’ve achieved this goal. You’re making temporary sacrifices to benefit your future self or maybe even your loved ones. Celebrate the small milestones.

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