Going to grad school requires hard work and commitment, and you can expect to spend many hours endeavoring to complete assignments, conduct research, and write papers. Most students must manage their schedules carefully, surrendering some undisciplined freedoms previously available.
While such rigor sounds miserable and lonely, it doesn’t have to be so. A well-managed schedule includes times for pleasure and times for work; many grad students can balance research and romance throughout their research programs. Take a look at these seven tips to help you balance graduate studies and romance.
While your graduate studies will keep you extremely busy, prioritizing human connections can actually make you a better student. Research shows that people who take time to connect with others have lower stress, anxiety, and depression levels. Meaningful connections can boost your self-esteem. Fortunately, some simple things can enhance your romantic relationships while working toward your diploma.
1. Eliminate Unproductive Time - Unproductive time is when you’re neither working nor playing; you’re wasting time. You’re in grad school. You can’t afford to waste time. Better invest this time fulfilling significant tasks like pursuing a romantic relationship or reading that book you’ve always wanted to. Strictly appropriating times for activities that help you reach your goals will enable you to allot time for your priorities. We all work differently. Some of us are night owls; others work better in the morning. Some students can study for long periods, while some may need to work in intervals broken up by small breaks. It’s doubtful that you will get a lot done during times that are unproductive for you. Identifying these areas can help you put your time to better use, such as going on a date or chatting on the phone.
2. Stick to a Schedule - Most graduate students might imagine they could work every waking hour. That isn’t healthy, becomes inefficient, and leaves no time to pursue romantic relationships. Maintaining a strict schedule of the days and times you plan to study can help. Some grad students enforce a ‘no weekends’ work policy, while others might balance weekends with work and romantic activities. Sticking to the schedule doesn’t enslave you, just be mindful of variations.
3. Sync Up Schedules - If you’re dating another student, you’ll need to calculate how to balance two schedules. Communicate with your partner on which days you plan to take off so you can maximize your time together. Even non-students can appreciate working within a schedule. Ask your partner what a good weekly schedule looks like; collaborate to create a healthy one.
4. Manage Your Energy Levels - Like other hard work, graduate studies can zap your energy, leaving you unmotivated to date or pursue romantic interests. Focusing on self-care like eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising can increase your energy levels and maintain your productivity.
5. Plan New Experiences - Maintaining productive studies and worthwhile relationships both suffer from the monotony of the environment. Breaking routines can enhance both pursuits. It can be challenging to focus on your relationship when you’re in the same environment where you live, work, and study. Digital gadgets, notifications, and a myriad of other distractions can remove us from shared experiences. Break the monotony by intentionally going somewhere different or experiencing something new. For example, take a quick weekend road trip together to a new state park or try unfamiliar cuisine at a new restaurant.
6. Schedule Study Dates - If you and your significant other must study or work on projects, you might do some of it together. Even if you aren’t chatting or working on the same task, just being in the same space can help you feel connected. Reward yourself after a long study session with dinner afterward.
7. Share Time and Space - This may or may not work for some couples because of living situations, relationship status, or other constraints, but sharing a space can significantly increase the amount of time you spend together.
Managing romance and graduate studies both require careful planning. Using study time inefficiently defeats those goals. Find study tools that increase your productivity. At Petal, we help simplify the process by giving students the tools they need to collect, organize, and share research materials with their classmates and lab partners. Join Petal to experience the powerful benefits of streamlined research for free.