Balancing Research, Classes, and Life

Breathe sign for Mayo Clinic Balancing Research, Class, and Life blog

Monday, February 18, 2019
By Randi Alexandra Plake, Digital Content Specialist, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science

Burnout in graduate school is a very real problem. It can be stressful to manage your academic commitments with other responsibilities. Two Ph.D. students give their input on the subject with practical tips on how they balance research and life. For more resources, visit our student wellness website.

Emma Goddery: The importance of balance

Emma Goddery, graduate student at Mayo ClinicIn graduate school and in science in general, work/life will likely never reach a 50/50 balance. In order to stay healthy and productive you have to find a way to harmonize the two, and this harmony may be different from student to student and often needs to be fluid based upon deadlines you are currently facing.

Personally, I try to harmonize work, classwork, exercise, diet, and time with friends and family. This requires an attempt to plan out the entire week on Sunday evenings. I set a goal of getting to a fitness class at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center at least twice a week and getting to adventure outside at least two additional times.

Sundays also involve grocery shopping and meal planning/prepping so you don’t have to think about what you’re eating mid-week while you’re in the midst of long experiments.

Finally, I do my best to take the weekends off and spend time winding down with loved ones, unless getting into the lab is absolutely necessary to reach a milestone or complete an important experiment.

Successfully completing these actions make me more productive all around!

Emma is an Immunology Track Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Emma is the co-president of the Graduate Student Association.

Alyssa Brown: Sleep, school, or friends?

Alyssa Brown, graduate student at Mayo ClinicSomeone once told me when I started medical school you can pick two of the three following things: sleep, school, or social life.

It’s important to know that overall, there is a balance, and it doesn’t come easy. It takes time and practice. I try to not beat myself up so much if I have a hard time balancing everything.

Different times in life the balance gets easier or harder depending on how things are going. I have really liked using a planner or at least planning out in advance for lab and studying, which has been useful. Recently I have really been into my Passion Planner, which has a focus on mindfulness.

I lean toward choosing school and social over sleep, but my rationale is that I should enjoy my 20s. I don’t want to look back and regret not going to a concert or spending time with a friend.

At the end of the day, those nights and days and social things are what keeps me going when it’s hard. You have to find out what makes you happy and what motivates you.

Alyssa is a Biomedical Engineering and Physiology Track Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

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