Managing the work-life-study balance as a postgraduate student

Those of us who have been in the workforce for some time can really benefit from the knowledge refresh and new skills offered by postgraduate study. However, trying to find that elusive balance between full-time work, study, family and fun, can seem overwhelming.

Having been involved in the not-for-profit sector for the past seven years, I am motivated by opportunities that enable me to contribute to the community sector, as well as opportunities to master new skills, add to my personal achievement and foster strong mutually beneficial relationships. These reasons are part of what drove me to study the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance with Governance Institute of Australia. Balancing my role as Governance Manager with postgraduate study was not always easy, so here are my top tips for managing the work-life-study balance.

1. Stop waiting for the ‘right time’

There is never a good time to study and time is going to pass by regardless. At the risk of sounding too much like Nike, sometimes you just need to do it. If it is going to benefit you in the long run, a little sacrifice can have a big reward.

2. Prepare your loved ones

Postgraduate study is a commitment that is going to have an impact on those who love you, especially those who live with you. Make sure they are on-board with your study plans and understand that whilst you are studying, your home might be a little less tidy, time with friends and family may need to wait till the end of semester, and there may be a requirement for endless cups of tea!

3. Mix and match online and face-to-face

Face-to-face classes are great for those who need human interaction to make it through the semester. I have done subjects both online and face-to-face with Governance Institute of Australia. There is value added to face-to-face with visiting lecturers, and the fantastic network of people you make. However, you can be just as successful with the online classes.

If you’re undecided, maybe do your first couple of units in class. This will help you build a supportive network that you can draw on if you decide to undertake future units online.

 4. Plan to finish on a high note

Book a holiday or something fun to look forward to after you finish exams — this definitely helped me to keep going when times were tough. Always keep that end goal in mind and imagine how good it will feel receiving your graduation certificate or diploma.

5. Remember to take time out

At times when work got really busy or I was just feeling overwhelmed, I would take a week off and then get back into it. It is important to clear your head and rest your body.

 6. Find the right institution to study with

The team at Governance Institute of Australia were very accommodating and the guest lecturers brought life to the materials. The course was very practical — the things I learnt, I was able to apply straight away in the workplace. The lecturers were all inspiring in their own ways, using their professional experiences as examples and the small class sizes were a great opportunity to build networks with people in different industries. These factors are essential for overcoming the barrier to study because in the end, it is what you get out of it that makes it all worthwhile.

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