Creating Time for Your Non-Academic Pursuits

By Atéha Bailly MDiv ’23

Courtesy of Justin Knight

If you are like me, you have activities and projects outside of your academic work that are important to you. For me it is music, but yours could be writing, running, or any number of other non-academic pursuits you are passionate about. We all know how busy and stressful academic commitments can get during the semester. No matter what your extracurricular activity is, it is important that you find to time to keep up with it, even in graduate school. Here are some ideas on how to still prioritize your personal projects while balancing schoolwork. 

The first tip I learned from a friend of mine at HDS: block out dedicated times in your schedule. Once you have your class schedule sorted, schedule in blocks of time dedicated to your own projects/activities. Depending on what you want to do, this could be several short periods or one or two long time slots. Setting aside this time in your calendar makes your projects/activities a fixture of your week—it ensures you have time for them, and it gives you something to look forward to. 

Another way of working on your personal projects and activities is by doing them as part of HDS’s many student organizations. From yoga to beekeeping to creative writing, HDS student organizations can provide structure and community for your extracurricular endeavors. If there isn’t already an organization that aligns with your passion project, don’t worry! HDS students can register their own student organization—all you have to do is find another interested student and fill out the required paperwork

Lastly, find classes that explore personal interest areas. I know this tip doesn’t quite stick with the extracurricular trend of the last two. However, given the wealth of resources at HDS as well as those of Harvard University, I would be remiss not to suggest bringing your personal interest into your academic work. For instance, last semester I was lucky enough to take a songwriting class with Professor Esperanza Spalding. The class created a structure for me to work on my music, and it made me think about how to connect my academic work with my artistic endeavors.  

My parting advice is to get creative! There are so many ways that you can stay involved in your non-academic activities and passion projects while at HDS. There is no reason to give up on them! It may just take some thinking outside of the box to create the time.  

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