Part Time MBA Student Tips for Keeping a Work/Life Balance
One of the questions that prospective students ask our Part Time Ambassadors time and time again is how to keep a work/life balance while working toward their MBA.
Each student has their own way of juggling work, school and life, so here are some tips:
“The key word is: Balance. Term B is when I slowly started to find balance. I worked hard but at the same time sacrificed a couple hours of studying and sleep to partake in birthday parties and social gatherings. As time goes on in your program, you learn where and how to find that balance. It may not come immediately but eventually, it will.
Make a schedule! This helped me find my balance. Not only do should you make a schedule, but you also have to stick to it! I even added my extracurricular social activities to my schedule and calendar to ensure that I stuck with it!”
“To find balance, there were three actions that I took to realize the consistency necessary to achieve and sustain a good work/life balance.
First, establish a steady routine. Determine the most ideal time for you to study, play, sleep, run errands, work out, visit family, and so on. Be realistic with yourself. For example, I was not a morning person and greatly valued my weekends so I did not take weekend classes which started at 8:30 am on Saturdays and Sundays. I also preferred to be done with classes earlier in the week so I generally took classes on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Second, set clear expectations with those that really matter. The reality is that a good portion of your week will be dedicated to work and school work including time for group meetings, studying, classes, homework, etc. So it is unrealistic to assume that you will have as much as time to commit to social and other activities. As a result, proactively communicate your routine to your family, close friends, and managers so they are aware of what to expect from you based on your commitments.
Third, don’t forget to keep living life. Life goes on even while you are in school. So don’t miss out on it. Maintain your hobbies. Get a DVR to record and watch your shows on your schedule. Make time for special occasions (e.g. weddings, baby showers, graduations, etc.). Participate in diverse school events to meet new people which grow and expand your network. Plan a getaway. If you are too overwhelmed to coordinate one, take advantage of the study abroad programs offered at Smith.”
“I finally found balance part of the way through my 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.”