As I wrap up the 3rd year in my PhD program, I still struggle to find my sweet spot of productivity. BUT THAT’S OKAY!
Graduate school is essentially a marathon; you have a great (intellectual) distance to travel, and the primary goal is to finish. In order to do that, a balance must be struck between academic/professional work and self-care. Very often we forget about how important it is to take care of our mental and physical well-being. When we focus on sprinting too fast for a short distance, we run the risk of burning out (physically, mentally, and emotionally). So how can you negotiate your own balance of well-being and performance?
Some grad students treat graduate school like a typical 9-5 job, in the sense that they “work” from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. On the weekends, they tend to detach and focus on extra-curricular or home activities.
Some grad students work in spurts, gaining a great deal of productivity in a few days, and then perhaps bingeing on Netflix in between classes. And as long as you meet your deadlines, and see progress in your efforts, that’s all that really matters!!! If you made it this far, IT’S NOT BY MISTAKE!
Often we tend to use others as a comparison to our own efforts. While this can be helpful to guide us in similar directions as those that came before us, or those who are more senior in our programs, in the long run it can be emotionally exhausting. While it can be easy to beat ourselves up in this marathon, we have to also remind ourselves to be grateful that we are in the race. Our only focus in the end, should be the end. So please pace yourself, and reward yourself (in healthy ways). And as we creep closer and closer to accomplishing these larger academic/professional goals, its important to work hard, BUT also important take it easy. Here’s to finding your balance…