As a PhD student, Rejoice Frimpong knows all too well how important it is for university students to balance their work, studies, and personal life.
Rejoice is known online for sharing her academic journey on Instagram and her blog, and we interviewed her to learn more about her studies and her planning tips.
Before we dive into your planning and organization tips, we're eager to learn about your studies as a PhD student. Can you tell us a bit about your research?
I’m a final year PhD student in economics with interests in behavioural, health and development economics. My research looks at the relationship between health and economic growth.
Can you share what inspired you to pursue a PhD?
I grew up in a developing country and saw a sharp difference when I moved to the UK before college. This aspiration to discover the reasons for the disparities between rich and poor countries and how this reflected in their health respectively was my main motivating factor.
I saw that you previously participated in a 5am study challenge on your Instagram story. Can you tell us a bit about what keeps you motivated, both in terms of demanding study sessions like those and your work more generally?
It is “THE BIGGER PICTURE.” I imagine the things I’ll will lose or regret if I don’t study hard and contrarily, the satisfaction happiness, and opportunities that would become available to me.
Additionally, it is just wanting to set myself up for success later in life. I’m not always motivated but having systems in place like a 5am study schedule helps to me to stay focused.
I took a look at your website, and I saw that you work as an Associate Lecturer in Economics. We'd love to hear about how you manage your time and balance the responsibilities of both your own studies and teaching undergraduate students.
Balancing a job with studies can seem like a very daunting task at first, I can attest to this as a full time PhD student and a part time lecturer. Things can get overwhelming very fast but planning helps me stay on top in both areas.
I define the number of hours I can spare to study (This can be evenings, weekends or early mornings). I make a detailed timetable, a detailed weekly plan, notting down all the task that needs to be completed along with timeframes.
I develop an efficient study routine. Writing down everything that needs to be completed for each study or working day. I ensure that my work/study table is fully organized and I have everything I need for each session already in place before I sit down to study.
Furthermore, I take care of my physical and mental health. Finding a balance that allows me enough time to maintain my physical and mental health. I try not to do too much over a short period of time which will lead to burnout, so I pace myself and whenever I feel that things are starting to get overwhelming, I take a day off to relax and refresh yourself.
Are there any planning tools or stationery items that you consider essential to your work?
My monthly, weekly and daily planners are a must. Having a planning system helps me focus the bigger goals and prioritise the most important things.
You've blogged about using a planner as a university student. Can you share your favorite tip(s) for planning as a student?
- Write down your goals for the coming week.
- Priorities these, starting with the one that will move you closer to your end goal.
- Time blocking- block uninterrupted time to work on each task.
- Leave some extra time incase some task takes longer than expected.
- Remember to schedule time for rest.
- Make them visible. Put your list somewhere you can easily see it, this way you can measure your progress just glancing at your list.
- Keep at it, remind yourself why you are doing this.
To end off our interview, what advice would you offer to a younger student who is interested in a path in academia?
You should have determination, perseverance and patience. Pursuing a career in academia is an important decision. For PhDs, getting a good supervisor, identifying the right topic for research, the number of years required for your program and if you’ll be working whilst studying are some of the important items for consideration.
A favourite quote that comes to mind is by Christopher Reeve: "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."