Surviving the Fisher WPMBA Program: Part I

Balancing Work and School

Work/life balance.  You’re heard the phrase before.  In the case of Working Professional MBA students, it is better said as “work/life/SCHOOL” balance.  The addition of this third demand makes finding that coveted state of “balance” that much harder.  So, for the next three weeks, I am going to focus on different areas of that precarious balance.  The first being the reason for this program – balancing work and school.

If you are lucky, you have a job that you enjoy, that challenges you, that makes you feel valued.  Perhaps it is more likely that you are not so lucky, and that is part (or all) of the reason for pursuing an MBA – a career change.  Either way, you have a great challenge facing you:  adding 8+ hours of class per week on top of a 40+ hour work week.  Add to that time spent studying, working with classmates, and generally pulling your hair out, and you are one busy person.  The word “busy” takes on new meaning.  So how do you make sure that in your quest to do well in school, you don’t let your performance slip at work?

That is the question that is at the top of my mind right now, and there is no easy answer.  The funny thing is, work and school don’t seem to care very much about each other.  Yes, they are “supportive” of each other, but in actuality, both are quite demanding and act without regard to the other.  Have a big presentation to make at work tomorrow?  Tough luck, because that is also the same day as your difficult midterm.   The key is figuring out how to focus on both, without letting one harm the other.

I am trying to apply this principle to my life right now.  I am a huge fan of lists, and they come in extremely handy during stressful times like this.  I typically make lists every week:  one for work, and one for school.  That seems to suite me fine when things aren’t so busy, but when things pick up like they have right now, that’s not going to cut it.  So I make a list every day – what EXACTLY am I going to accomplish at work today?  Being specific like this makes me more accountable and focused while I’m at work.   And the same goes for school.

The Notebooks I Can't Live Without!

Compartmentalizing my life like this helps ensure that I will actually accomplish something at work on any given day, and not leave for class that evening wondering where the heck the day went.  And that helps me achieve a little more of that coveted “work/school” balance.   Stay tuned next week for working exercise into that balance equation!