As an HDR student, sometimes it’s hard to put boundaries around your time. Typically, you won’t have to attend any regular classes or seminars and for the most part, you are in control of how you spend your time during the day. Most times you can work from anywhere, or if your research is tied to a laboratory, usually you would have access 24/7. It’s not unusual to let research work and writing spill over to the weekend. This leads us to a high risk of burning out.
How can we carve out some essential rest and fun time during the weekend? Given that I am drawing closer to my thesis submission date, I wanted to try some steps that were practical – I can’t be going out every weekend at this stage, but I do need some time to socialize and rest. Here are some of the things that were really simple. I stuck with them for three weekends and have found them really helpful in letting me enjoy the weekend.
- Turn off notifications. I switched off work email notifications and any other apps that I associated with the working week. It made my Monday mornings not only more productive but also more pleasant. I was surprised at how much time I wasted on the weekend just checking and scrolling through my emails. The two-day break from emails stopped me from feeling run down and almost weary during Monday mornings because previously I would spend the weekend thinking about what I had to do on Monday. Instead, I wasn’t thinking about work at all and so when Monday came around, I felt fresher and just ready to dive in to the work and actually action the things that needed to be done from the emails.
- Devise a switching-off ritual – You can use a physical barrier, a bath or a cold shower, baking, etcetera. Friday evenings used to be a gathered dinner with friends. This signalled for me the end of the work week and the beginning of the weekend. It was always something I looked forward to. With the thesis writing though, there are some weekends that I’d rather spend quietly at home. I also wanted to create a ritual that I could do consistently even if Friday dinners were cancelled on a certain weekend for some reason. A simple ritual could be something like physically unplugging your computer or spending some extra time on your skin like putting on a face mask or lighting your favourite candle, or a special drink or treat. It’s really just a small habit to remind you to take a break these next two days.
- Ensure there is one fun thing to do during your weekend – a comedy show with friends, weekend markets, a hike, a road trip, or volunteering. Again, it does not have to be complex, expensive, or a chore to plan. It can be really simple and small.
- Brain dump list for your weekday – One of my bad habits it’s constantly reviewing in my head, a litany of all the things that need to get done, and then thinking of those things compels me to open my emails, schedule time to do them, which then leads me down the path of essentially doing work on the weekends. Don’t let thoughts about work and the list of things you need to do when you get back to work, encroach on your weekend. Keep a brain dump list so you don’t forget, but also so you don’t have to keep it in your mind during the weekend.
- Rest – This means not getting drawn into the hustle culture. Use this time to recharge your batteries until they are full. This will help you be ready to properly hustle when the work week begins. Rest does not have to be sleep. Restful activities can include reading, journaling, afternoon naps, de-cluttering your closet, or speaking with a friend.
Some tips for finding a good balance can be found at here.