Balancing postgraduate study and life commitments: practical tips for success

If you’re a postgraduate student juggling study, work, family and time for self-care, finding balance can be challenging. In this blog, we'll provide you with practical tips on managing your time efficiently, staying focused, maintaining motivation and prioritising your health, so you can achieve your career goals. 

Time management for success 

Effective time management is the key to maintaining balance in your life as a postgraduate student. Use these practical tips to optimise your schedule: 

Create a study timetable

Allocate specific hours for studying by using a study timeline. Be consistent to establish a routine and increase productivity. Get familiar with your body clock and ensure that the time you schedule for study is when your brain is typically.  

Prioritise tasks

Identify urgent and important tasks and tackle them first. Use tools like to-do lists or apps to organise your responsibilities effectively. 

Use breaks wisely

During study sessions, take short breaks to rest your mind and refresh. Avoid distractions during these breaks and return to your tasks with a clear focus. 

Employ techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (search for the Pomodoro app!)

Work in short bursts of intense focus (25 minutes) followed by a short break (5 mins). This approach is proven to help maintain concentration. 

Embrace technology to streamline your study process.

Use note-taking apps, such as Evernote or OneNote, to organise and access your study materials easily. Use apps that block distracting notifications. Make time early when you enrol to get familiar with the online learning environment and how it can support you to manage your study better

Create a dedicated study space

Establish a quiet and organised study area where you can concentrate without distractions. This space will signal your brain that it's time to focus. 

Saying no to fun things without guilt 

As a postgraduate student, your time is limited, and saying no to social events or activities might be necessary to stay on track. Here's how to do it without feeling guilty: 

Communicate your goals

Explain your academic commitments and career aspirations to friends and family. Genuine loved ones will understand and support your decision to prioritise your studies. 

Plan in advance

Inform friends about your busy periods and suggest alternative times to catch up. This way, you maintain your relationships while focusing on your studies. 

Learn to decline gracefully

Politely decline invitations when necessary, emphasising your current study workload. Express your gratitude for the invitation and propose a rain check for a later date. 

The UTS Online model is built so that you can study one subject at a time over a seven-week block and then have a two-week break. Being able to chunk your time and commit mentally in short bursts makes it much more achievable. 

Staying focused on your goals 

Remaining focused on your academic and career goals will propel you towards success. Follow these strategies to maintain your focus: 

  • Write down your ‘why’ and a SMART goal to achieve your study.  
  • Visualise your success - imagine the satisfaction of achieving your postgraduate degree and the doors it will open in your career. Visualising success can serve as a powerful motivator. 
  • Set milestones. Break your academic journey into smaller, manageable milestones. Celebrate each achievement and use them as steppingstones toward your goal. 
  • Share your goals and ‘why’ with your Student Success Advisor so they can remind you of them throughout. Sharing a goal with people who will support helps to increase your likelihood of achievement.  
  • Embrace challenges and setbacks as learning opportunities: Rather than seeing obstacles as roadblocks, view them as stepping stones towards personal and academic development. 

How to stay motivated throughout your postgraduate journey 

Motivation is crucial for staying committed to your studies. Here's how to maintain it: 

Join study groups

Interacting with fellow postgraduate students can be inspiring and help you stay motivated. Share ideas, discuss challenges, and celebrate successes together. 

Seek support from mentors

Reach out to professors or academic advisors, friends, family or work colleagues who have done postgraduate study before for guidance and encouragement. They can provide valuable insights on how to keep your mind on the longer-term bigger picture and outcomes that your hard work will bring.

Reward yourself

Set up a rewards system for achieving study milestones or completing difficult tasks. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, such as a day off or a favourite meal.


Get your heart pumping to jolt your brain into a positive mindset ready for study. Even a five-minute brisk walk is enough to reset the brain. 

Engage in reflective practices

This will help you evaluate your learning progress and identify areas for improvement. Consider keeping a study journal to track your study habits and set new goals as you progress through your postgraduate journey. 

Find your inspiration

Identify your sources of inspiration, whether it's a renowned researcher in your field, a successful professional, or simply a personal role model. Follow their journey, read their work, or listen to their speeches to gain motivation and a sense of purpose. Remember, if they could achieve their goals, so can you. 

Prioritising self-care and maintaining health 

Your wellbeing is essential to your academic success. Here's how to prioritise self-care and stay healthy: 

Get enough sleep

Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep each night to recharge your mind and body for the next day. We get it – sometimes you will have to pull a late night to get an assignment finished – but aim to stick to your routine as much as possible. 

Engage in physical activity

Incorporate regular exercise into your routine to reduce stress and boost your energy levels. 

Eat well-balanced meals

Nourish your body with nutritious food to support your brain function and overall health. 

Practice mindfulness

Incorporate mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to reduce stress and enhance focus. 

Seek help when needed

Know that it’s ok to ask for help. Reach out to your Student Success Advisor, fellow students, tutors or academic advisors if you’re struggling with a concept or facing academic challenges. No question is a dumb question, and seeking assistance early can prevent issues from escalating and hinder your progress. 

Balancing postgraduate study with work, family commitments and self-care may seem daunting, but with effective time management, setting priorities and staying motivated, you can succeed in all areas of your life. Remember to communicate your academic goals to your loved ones, say no to distractions when needed, and prioritise self-care for optimal wellbeing.

By following these practical tips, you'll be well-equipped to excel in your postgraduate journey while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Happy studying!