Message from the Chaplain – Welfare and Academic Work


I encourage you to have one day off a week where you don’t think about or do academic work, which includes the night before – we all need down time to refresh ourselves and re-energise.

Sometimes we can overwork in a very unproductive way – we might spend hours “working” but the quality of the time is far less as we are overtired and overstressed – it becomes counterproductive.

Oxford academic life is a marathon but masquerades as an 8 week sprint…if you are struggling to tame the unruly puppy that is your academic work – if it keeps running across sleep time and prevents you from having an interest outside of work or friends like a hobby – try setting it some clearer boundaries, put it back in its crate sometimes and have a flexible and realistic work schedule. Some people think they haven’t got time for a day off but then the stress stacks up…I’d argue you haven’t got time not to have a day off – you need it so plan it in.

Some guidelines…

Essentials are I would say: a day off a week including the night before, regular 5-15min breaks in addition to meal times, good sleep as much as possible: key hours are midnight to 2am, drink some water on and off throughout the day.

If you have 2 essays a week – that’s three days each essay and probably 2-2.5 days reading and 1-0.5 days writing – try not to let it run over – keep the discipline if you can.

There is no such thing as a perfect essay but there is such a thing as a finished essay – it’s a snapshot of where your thinking has reached – you do your best in the time allotted – no-one can ask more than that.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see your week beginning at the point you have handed in one of your essays.

When you are planning your day off – think about when your friends will be free too – might as well plan it in for a time that fits with them.

If you want some help reconfiguring or reflecting on your work habits and schedule you can always talk to one of the welfare team (peer supporters / welfare reps / JDs ) including me.

Rev’d Julia Baldwin
Chaplain