Work/life balance. I have always considered it to be like the holy grail, something so elusive that you question if it can ever actually be found.
Work/life/SCHOOL balance. Unheard of. Laughable to suggest that something as crazy and complex as this could even exist.
This is exactly how I would have described finding balance during the course of my first semester in business school. Why would I think it feasible to attain a work/life/school balance when I was working 10-12 hour days, going to class at night, hardly speaking to my friends and family? Things slowly started to turn part of the way through that first semester. I was forging relationships with people in my cohort; I had a handle on my professors’ expectations, and was able to walk into class without looking like a deer in headlights.
Feeling like I had school “under control” allowed me to better focus on my time management. It was not as though a light switch had been flipped and I was being flooded with hours upon hours of free time, but lowering my anxieties about starting the program allowed me to see more clearly, and subsequently prioritize everything a lot better. I was still working challenging hours, but I let my team know my school schedule so they would be aware of when I was unavailable and we could collectively plan accordingly. I found myself more proactively planning social events with friends and family in advance and fought the urge to leave homework for Sunday nights, attempting to chip away at assignments throughout the week.
While time management proved to be key, there were definitely those weeks, that despite all efforts to plan out my schedule, I was destined to exist in a state of chaos. When things felt like they were starting to spiral out of control it was like performing triage in an emergency room. I had to stop, quickly prioritize everything going on and quickly get back to work. Sometimes that meant rescheduling dinner with a friend, or working with a professor to make up a missed class.
My best advice is to not be too hard on yourself – focus on time management while remaining realistic about your schedule limitations, and do not be afraid to say no sometimes.
Lindsay Rosti has a BS of Architecture from the University of Virginia and works as a construction Project Manager for Clark Construction, one of the 10 largest general contractors in the United States. Her work experience ranges from contract reviews to risk, subcontractor, budget, and financial management.