Monday, November 8, 2010

MSLIS Monday - Work/Life Balance for Grad Students

I have been hearing a lot about work/life balance recently.  There are workshops, articles on magazines, discussions on talk shows.  Yet, in all of these different discussions, no one has mentioned work/life balance for the graduate student.

I was once told that if you are a grad student who also works and has a significant other, say goodbye to your social life for the next 2+ years.  As I am nearing the end of my third semester, I tend to agree.  I have a husband, work 30 hours a week, do 10 hours a week at an internship, take 3 classes, am part of a ProGen group and am a blogger.  Other things I consider myself, such a a genealogist, reader, and traveler, have all but disappeared.  Blogging goes in spurts.  Cleaning falls by the wayside, except for laundry when I am out of clean undergarments.  I do not exercise as often as I should, sleep as much as I should or see friends as much as I would like.

To keep sane, I do allow myself to combine certain interests in my spare time, usually the one day a week I take off from everything mandatory (work, classes, etc.).  I have been reading a lot of genealogy guidebooks lately, particularly during breaks at work.  I find this both relaxing and educational.  I arrange my work schedule, which is very flexible, around my husbands, which is static.  This means we usually have lunch together and spend most of Friday and Saturday together.  This time is often spent at a coffee house or library doing work, but we get to chat during breaks and see each other more than we would otherwise.  For traveling, I try to attend a conference or two each semester, as well as workshops that are easy to drive to for a day.  This allows me to see new places and spend time with my school friends that I go with.

I know the easiest way to gain more time would be working less and taking out more in loans to support myself or taking fewer classes and a longer time to get through the program.  Luckily, I am not bothered by this less than balanced life except for about the month of November, where every project seems due, the sunlight starts to decline rapidly each day and the excitement of the holidays and time off comes at me full-force.

The secret to surviving a crazy busy, not very balanced semester is to eat well, exercise as much as possible, know when to say no and realize that even if you disappear for a month into school, your friends, family and social media followers all understand.  It is also important to have one day a week where you can do what you want, whether that means reading genealogy guidebooks, touring an art museum or just staying in your pajamas all day staring at a wall.  Plus, just think of how enjoyable winter/summer break will be!


  1. Glad to hear you're attempting to achieve some sort of balance. It's no easy task, but I know you can do it!

  2. Hang in there - and I know you will. You've got the right approach and it willl pay off in the long run!


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