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Pursuing hobbies


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This is going to be field dependent and depend on where you are in your program. But, really, you can make time for anything you want to prioritize. I spent 5-10 hours a week training in a martial art for most of my PhD and it wasn't a problem.

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People go through graduate programs at the same time as working, raising a family, taking care of elderly parents, commuting long-distance, etc. You choose how much time to invest in your education and how much time to spend on other things. There may be busier times and not as busy times during your program, but like anything else, it's all about prioritizing. If pursuing a hobby is important to you, you should be able to make time for it. 

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I agree with the others that this is not really about having enough hours in a day/week but really about prioritization and time management. You need to decide what is important in your life and schedule your time accordingly! Whether this will be easy or hard will depend on the norms of your department, your potential research/lab group and your rapport with your advisor/PI.

I think it's really important for graduate students to learn how and when to say no, especially to authority figures like advisors and other faculty members. This is much easier said than done, but it can be more manageable if students can find advisors that match their style. I think this is why "advisor fit" is the most important part of happiness in grad school: it is very difficult for a student to change how their advisors view work-life balance.

If you are just starting out this fall, I would recommend finding a way to discuss expectations early on with your advisor (e.g. during the first semester). If you have some time to decide on which group/lab to end up in, definitely talk to current students to find out what it is like to work for each person. The other thing to keep in mind is that although our primary goal in grad school is to work hard at research, your own personal goals are also legitimate and important! I used to always feel guilt if I took time off for a personal thing, but then I learned that I work a lot better when I am happy and feel fulfilled as a human. Now I strongly believe that I do much better work when I remember that students and researchers are people, not academic automatons.


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The best advice I got about academic time management was this:

Put in the things outside your work first (sleep, time to maintain your health, relationships, hobbies). Then use the time remaining (within reason) for work. 

Research (and teaching) can easily extend to fill any time you allocate for it- there is literally no end to what you can do. So limit it by deciding what your other (arguably) more important life priorities are, then make sure you take time for them. 

As a starting point, I worked grad school as a regular 9-6 job. Sometimes I had to work outside that, but I tried to keep that to a minimum and only during discreet periods. That also ensured I had time in the evenings to cook good food, work out, spend time with my family, and pursue my hobbies.

As a great resource, I'll recommend the book "Making Time, Making Change" (http://store.newforums.com/Making-Time-Making-Change-SDB05.htm). I went to a faculty development seminar by the author, and it was fantastic at refocussing the narrative from "how much time to do I have for things outside teaching" to "how much time do I have left for teaching once I budget in the really important stuff in my life". 

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