All students at some stage will find it difficult to maintain a good balance between paid work, study and other personal interests. Some of the early signs of this include:
- Being overwhelmed by tertiary studies (you might also like to refer to the Difficulties with Studying section).
- Believing they have to commit every available moment to study which encroaches on sleep (see Sleeping Difficulties section) and other commitments.
- Having to undertake paid work to survive limits opportunities for study commitments and other social aspects of life.
- Feeling like they are ‘burnt out’ and can’t continue, that something has to give (refer to the Health and Disability section).
How to Help
- Often for financial reasons they do need to keep their paid work. You might like to refer to the section on Work Issues.
- Spending all their time studying doesn’t necessarily work. (e.g. people can be more productive by doing less, so having a break and then coming back to studies refreshed, sounds too simple to be true, but if you think about it you always study better in the first hour and then it tapers off a bit.) Have a look at the Study Issues category for further tips.
- If you notice that your friend is really over committed then it might be good to start that discussion about what choices they will need to make, such as exploring which things it might be possible to drop for awhile or give up. For example, it isn’t always about giving up the non-tertiary activity. Your friend might be aspiring towards a career in a sport, music or a significant community role and can return to studies at a later stage or simply take longer to do the studies.
- Help them find out when are their most productive hours and schedule tertiary studies work in those times leaving the other hours for other activities, including socialising. You can probably accomplish twice as much in one of your productive time slots than trying to study in one of your less productive time slots (times when you generally get tired).
- It is about creating space for some activities and putting it in to their weekly schedules. You can encourage your friend to plan their week and perhaps organise to do some activities together as part of that weekly schedule. It is a good idea to have regular breaks each week that they look forward to and which do not involve tertiary study.
- Look for times when your friend might not be utilising time well, for example, in between two lectures you might have two hours where they do nothing. This time could be used for study and thus free up time after the second lecture to do a specific non study related activity. It is about becoming more efficient with the time that is available.
- Encourage your friend to have a whole day that is totally study free (this may change during study vacation and closer to exams).
- Remind your friend that they just have to get through the semester (one chunk at a time) which is usually only 12-14 weeks.
- Even if some of this work life balance is compromised during the semester then it can be rectified in the breaks.
- As a friend plan to have breaks together. They can start with taking a break at lunch time, something away from studies.