Can I really have it all? Learning how to achieve work-life balance in academia
“It's not about free time, it's a lack of free energy. Who can do hobbies when you're physically, mentally, and emotionally drained?” – Lecturer, North America; CACTUS Mental Health Survey Report 2020
Have you ever made it to the end of a long work-week, feeling too exhausted to do something fun? Or, are you so swamped with many meetings during the week that you use the weekend to catch up on your own work – work like reading or writing papers, working on grant proposals, completing experiments, etc.? If this is true for you then, like several other researchers and academics, you’re probably struggling to achieve some semblance of balance between your work and personal life.
Work-life balance is not a new topic of discussion in academia. Despite this, instead of new policies and more effective solutions, a trend of imbalance between work and life beyond work seems to be consistently increasing among researchers. According to results from the CACTUS Mental Health Survey, 43% of 13,000 surveyed researchers indicated that they didn’t have sufficient time for hobbies, recreation, or other non-work activities. Moreover, the demands of the post-pandemic world have made it even more challenging to establish boundaries between work and personal life.
To help you learn how to balance your work and personal life better, we’ve invited PhD researcher Shruti Turner to talk about the importance of work-life balance and explain how we can work towards achieving a better integration between the two.
According to Shruti, “Life happens and we should be able to feel like we can adjust accordingly.” In this session, she will –
- Explain why it's important to focus on work-life balance in academia and establish this balance
- Talk about some of the factors that could result in poor work-life balance
- Discuss the negative consequences of work-life imbalance
- Share personal experiences of times when she succeeded and failed in achieving work-life balance herself
- Share tips and advice on how we can establish a better work-life balance, based on strategies that have worked for her personally
Date: March 30, 2021
Time: 10:00 am ET (2:00 pm UTC)
About Shruti Turner:
PhD Researcher, Imperial College London; MSc in Biomedical Engineering and BEng Aeronautics and Astronautics, University of Southampton
Shruti started a PhD with the Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London in January 2018. Her project combines her passion for education and research, while also allowing her to help amputees in need. It is focused on understanding the clinical utility of pressure sensors in lower limb prosthetic sockets to improve fit and evaluate what is meant by ‘good fit.’ Prior to this, Shruti did an MSc Biomedical Engineering and BEng Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Southampton.
She maintains an interesting, insightful blog about her time as a PhD student, right from the beginning, called . She decided to start this blog as a medium for self-reflection, and also in the hope that sharing her experience would inspire others to undertake a PhD.
Shruti believes that work-life balance is important first and foremost to look after our mental health and a big part of that is enjoying life! Sometimes, looming deadlines and tight schedules might force us to shift our balance a bit, but she says that as long as we know we’re coming back to a norm or equilibrium, that’s perfectly okay.
The top three things close to Shruti’s heart are education, sustainability and research. She also loves to travel, but unfortunately doesn’t do it nearly as much as she would like to!