How to Integrate an MBA into your Work-Life Balance
We are all equal when it comes to time. We get the same number of hours every day, week in and week out. When seeking an MBA online, that time gets even more precious. Balancing time with family, work, and studying requires planning and organization. Time management and intentional planning are essential. Here are some ways students can achieve a good work/life balance.
Choose a Program for Working Professionals
While it is ideal not to have to work at all while attending school, that is often not possible for those seeking an MBA. Many online MBA programs are tailored to working professionals, offering you tools that will help you keep a good work-life balance.
The online MBA program at Marylhurst University offers accelerated five week courses that enable you to advance through their program much faster than other MBA programs.
An ideal work schedule while taking classes full time would require no more than 20 hours a week Debbie Kaylor, a career counselor advises. Students should talk to their employers honestly, and set realistic expectations. Most employers will support you in prioritizing academics, especially if your MBA will benefit the company in the long run.1
At the same time, you should discuss scheduling and timing with family and friends. Others will be better able to accommodate your educational goals if they know what to expect from the outset.
Manage Your Time on the Internet
While many study guides and other materials are online, the internet can be very distracting. Managing your time online is essential to avoid distraction.
- Use apps to block certain social media sites and other sites you find distracting while you are studying. Then even if you are tempted, you won’t be able to navigate to those sites without turning off the app.
- Keep your email closed, and be sure your notifications are turned off. This will prevent you from seeing and being tempted to respond to incoming messages.
- Put your phone in airplane mode or at least turn off notifications. We all work and stay in touch in many ways with our phones. When you are studying, limit the temptation of your phone as much as possible. Let friends and family who might be concerned know when you will be out of touch and for how long.
While screen time is essential to complete homework and other study tasks, managing internet browsing and social media time is a vital part of good time management.
Use Little Blocks of Time
“You can accomplish a great deal in half an hour,” says Frances Booth in a Forbes article on productivity. “Don’t just float because you’ve only got half an hour until your next meeting or appointment.”2
The same is true for your time between classes, or between work and school. Find ways to use those little blocks of time to accomplish small tasks or for quick study sessions.
While it sounds counter-intuitive to add activity to an already busy schedule, exercise has been proven to help people with time management.
- Exercise pumps you up. It lifts your energy level better than caffeine or any other drink.
- Exercise improves your confidence. That feeling of accomplishment after working out inspires confidence in other areas of your life.
- Exercise increases your capacity. Being healthy increases your endurance and ability to get things done.
- Exercise inspires creativity. Some of your most creative ideas and solutions to problems will come to you while you are “in the zone” while exercising.
- Exercise builds momentum. It sets you in motion especially in the morning, making it harder for you to stop moving and be lazy.3
Adding exercise, even a short walk or quick workout will help you sustain your energy throughout the day and ease the fatigue that balancing school and work can induce.
Make Time to Get Away
When you get a break from school, whether it is spring break or a summer off, you still need to make time for yourself, and to get away from it all.
“There are so many excuses we can make on why not to do something,” says Anna Spindler, Marylhurst MBA alumni and Director of the Global Supply Chain and Logistics for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “I try to focus on how I can do something. This sounds like a cliche, but it’s one of the hardest things to do. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of a get away (not enough money, not enough time, long flight, no one else to go with etc…) and although all those things may be true there is always a way to go somewhere inexpensively, to find time and if no one else can go, go alone.”
Taking time for vacations and self-care is essential for good mental health and maintaining a good work-life balance.
Get Some Sleep
We tend to adjust our sleep patterns to the demands of our lives and the environment we are in rather than the other way around, which may be normal according to the New York Times. However, when we don’t get enough sleep, our productivity and the quality of our work suffers.4
In your schedule, include time to get adequate sleep, and use the small amounts of time you may have between work and classes to nap if need be. Being a well rested student will help both your grades and your productivity at work.
Pursuing an MBA is hard work, but it is essential to achieve a good life balance allowing time for work, family, and fun. Following these tips can help students in programs like the Marylhurst Online MBA program do just that, and set them up for success.