Balance isn’t always easy. Ravi Sharma, Lead Market Strategy Analyst at Duke Energy Renewables and part-time MBA student, shares a closer look at how he manages his busy work-life and graduate coursework.
As an MBA student who is working full time, I often get asked by friends, family, and coworkers, “How do you manage your time?” Let’s be honest, it’s not easy. But as an MBA student, you’re okay with “not easy”. It just needs to be…manageable.
I work an average of 40 to 45 hours a week, am married but with no kids (yet), own a home, and have a basic social life, in addition to being a student, of course. If you have a family, work long hours, or travel regularly, and are considering an MBA, it is absolutely doable. Still, you are going to want to think about where that time is going to come from and step up your time management game.
Believe it or not, ensuring I have a smooth semester starts long before it actually begins: with registration. The MBA core program is about evenly split between math & computational courses (economics, operations, accounting and finance) and reading & writing courses (human behavior, ethics, marketing and strategy). If I’m taking two classes, then I find it helpful to balance by taking one from each category. If I need to take a break from doing problems, I can switch to reading. Taking two reading and writing classes with big papers due at the end of the semester, or two math-oriented courses with midterms on back-to-back days is a stressful situation that you can avoid by picking the right classes. Hack: Check out the previous semester’s syllabus for a class before enrolling.
This semester, I’m taking two of the required classes in the program: Human/Organizational Behavior and Managerial Finance. To further help with time management, the classes are both “hybrids”, meaning we meet face-to-face every other week. During “off” weeks, I either have online lectures and assignments, or project work to get done.
September was a busy month for me, so I figured I would share a snapshot of my non-work calendar below.
Example of Ravi’s Non-Work Calendar
It started off slow, and I was able to sneak in a short trip to my alma mater for a football game with old friends. After returning, I had a pretty late night working on a “Client Approval” document that was due for my Human Behavior class, where our group has a consulting project for a local non-profit organization. The following week, I had a work conference in Salt Lake City, knocked out a discussion post for Human Behavior and worked on some problems for my Finance homework while on the plane. No distractions make it easier to focus. That Wednesday, I submitted my Finance homework and took a red-eye flight home, arriving the next day. Over the weekend, I volunteered at the Belk College booth at the alumni tailgate on campus and studied for my upcoming midterm. By mid-week, midterms were over. Whew!
Many of my classmates have far busier lives than I do and are able to handle the MBA workload. In the end, it’s all about understanding your priorities and finding a manageable balance that’s right for you.