How can I balance work, life and study as a postgraduate student?

Hear how these postgraduate alumni nailed their work-life balance with five key tips.

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It’s hard to deny that finding a balance between work and life has become a modern-day Holy Grail. With two-thirds of Australians now working from home1, trying to find that elusive balance between study, full-time work, and family and personal commitments can seem overwhelming at times. 

At RMIT, a busy schedule doesn’t have to mean delaying your next pay rise or career move. Here are some alumni-approved tips to achieve work-life balance while gaining your postgraduate qualification.

#1: Think about why you want to study

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When it comes to studying later in life, you need to ask yourself how much you want the end goal. And that goal is different for everyone. 

It could be a career change, the next step up the ranks at work or a way to fulfil your passion. Once you’ve worked out your compelling ‘why’, you can focus on ‘how’ to find what balance looks like for you.  

For Master of Public Policy student Kathy Bates, focusing on her motivation for studying her passion naturally encouraged her to make it work in her schedule. 

“I love my course, so it doesn’t feel like work. I have six-hour classes on a Saturday and they go by in a blink. I don’t need to prioritise study because I want to do it,” Kathy says. 

“When you find things you enjoy, you just make it work.” 

#2: Communicate with those invested 

Extra study is likely to benefit more than just you, suggests Professor Sara Charlesworth from RMIT’s School of Management and Centre for People, Organisations and Work, and it’s important to communicate what it means for everyone to make it easier. 

“Sit down with your family or your manager. Tell them why returning to study is important to you and the difference it will make not only for you but also for them. You are going to need them on side during your studies as there will be ups and downs along the way.” 

#3: Research the benefits offered by different universities

University support services could have a huge impact on the way you’re able to achieve work-life balance while studying. Consider the following questions when you start researching universities: 

  • Are you after flexible learning? If your RMIT course offers part-time study options, they will be listed on the course page under ‘Duration’. 
  • Where’s the campus located and how will you get there? RMIT has campuses in the heart of Melbourne City, Brunswick and Bundoora. All our campuses are accessible by public transport.  
  • Do you need childcare services? RMIT’s City campus has childcare services available to support parents of children up to five years old. 

Have another question about RMIT? You can also contact one of our friendly team members through Study@RMIT

#4: Plan your schedule in a way that reflects work-life balance

Being realistic with your expectations is the first step in planning a balanced schedule. 

“Be reasonable about what is doable in the time you have. Make sure you build in some down time. Life events have a habit of getting in the way of study, and that’s OK,” says Professor Charlesworth. 

Master of Design Futures alumnus Georgina Lewis worked full time while completing her degree, which pushed her to rethink her typical daily schedule so she could fit in her study time.  

“In the time that I would usually use to watch some reality TV, or cook or go to the gym, I always felt like there was something more productive I could be doing, because I had reading to do or I had things to do,” she explains. 

“I started to manage my time so that I'd give myself Sundays off and that was a lot better. All the lectures were online between six and nine pm and I actually really enjoyed speaking with my colleagues. 

“When we had an online lecture, you could talk to everyone else who was also working full time, and also grappling with the same concepts that you're trying to learn about.” 

#4: Plan your schedule in a way that reflects work-life balance

Where government restrictions allow, the future of learning at RMIT will feature a mix of face-to-face and online activities, such as recorded lectures and on-campus tutorials. Blended learning means you’ll maximise your time spent on campus, while affording you more flexibility to fit online or recorded activities into your schedule.  

RMIT also offers study support tools that can help you streamline your time management techniques, such as an assignment planner and peer mentoring. Master of Project Management alumnus Srivaths Parayil used an app to help him maintain his work-life balance by organising class times, assignment due dates and weekly tasks ahead of time. 

“One of the best things about RMIT is they actually tell you the assignments and due dates for the entire course so you know what the dates are,” he says. 

 

Ready to choose an industry-backed qualification that will make you indispensable in your industry? Discover RMIT’s postgraduate courses and take charge of what’s next.

1"Two thirds of Australians are working from home”. Australian Government, Australian Institute of Family Studies, 17 June 2021, https://aifs.gov.au/media-releases/two-thirds-australians-are-working-home. Media release.  

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.