How to Become a Time Management Ninja

Happy Fall, everyone! The temperature is dropping here in Columbus but some beautiful fall colors were seen these past few weeks!

Fall at Ohio State campus

I was recently advised to blog about how my experience as a student-athlete has helped me as a finance graduate student. That gave me the idea to write a post on what skills will help you be successful in grad school and detail along some specific examples where these skills are put into play in the SMF program. So here it goes!

In my first post, I mentioned used to be part of the Ohio State University tennis team when I was an undergraduate. During my time as a student-athlete, I found myself juggling school, academics and life in general. Life as a student-athlete is very busy, especially during the season when you are playing two matches per week, sometimes even either at home or away, or when there is a tournament happening out of town and you have to miss class for a whole week. Also, the more your team wins, the more days you will need to take off school to play matches if you are playing a tournament. Therefore, you learn to use every minute of your time productively.

I was thankfully able to begin to develop my time management skills back when I was younger, as I used to juggle tennis, school and life since I was 11 years old when I started traveling for tennis tournaments and would come back home to catch up with school.

Time management skills developed in my earlier years are definitely helping me with my responsibilities between school and being a graduate assistant. I would share to anyone applying to graduate school that time management is something you will need to master during your years as a graduate student.

In graduate school, you are taking around fifteen credit hours per semester but most of your time will be spent working on group projects outside the classroom. For example, I am currently part of two teams for three different classes. One of my teams is working on an R (coding) project, my other team is working on our core capstone equity research project and several Excel presentations. I would say at least five hours each week are out put into group work, and that is keeping it short. Another SMF team was meeting for six hours straight one of these days. Kudos to them, seriously!

Either you run the day or the day runs you. — Jim Rohn

I was not familiar with Jim Rohn’s background as a motivational speaker but found this quote on the Internet and decided to include it in this post because it could not be more true.

Either you start working on that long assignment today or the length of the assignment will seem more daunting tomorrow. Either you read that one more chapter of the book today or are lost in class and have to read two more chapters tomorrow. Time is so valuable in the life of a business student and professional in general, that either you control it or it starts controlling you.

But what is the best way to control time, you may ask? Some might have different answers for this one but this leads me to another topic for my next blog: planning! No pun intended, but I’m planning to ask some SMF students who are currently preparing for the CFA about their experiences studying for the exam and how they are dealing with time management. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Kid’s Story: Enjoy the Fall

Timeline: Tuesday noon-ish.

I see: my BlackBerry flashing for attention and a pile of work ready for my boss.

I hear: Stratovarius.

I smell: freshly printed pages.

I feel: hungry.

Getting an MBA is not easy. It’s like falling down.

OK, so at first I thought I would leave it at that; I mean, the phrase is pretty much self-explanatory. However, I figured I’d rather avoid the hate mail for saying negative things about our program.

First and foremost, this is a positive thing. Sure, some of the images that come to mind when talking about falling down are childhood memories of scraped knees, the smell of blood and iodine, the taste of your own tears, the sound of mom making everything better… or maybe of one of your dorkier friends asking “dude, did you fall?”, I don’t know.

However, this is a different kind of fall, especially since mom is no longer around (or she has at least hinted you should move out at some point). This is you standing on the ledge, a wimpy backpack with a chute, the wind pushing you forward, the rocks and trees at the bottom, the lack of a safety net… and once again, your still-dorky friend asking “dude, you gonna jump?”

When I considered withdrawing from the workforce, giving up two years of my life, leaving my family and friends behind, and so on, I felt the exact same gut-wrenching sensation as before such a leap. Everything that can possibly go wrong, along with some of your fondest and scariest memories, manages to flash before your eyes in an instant. You start wondering how you got yourself into this situation and even consider how it would look if you simply backed out now. Perhaps it would be better, you figure, rather than risking it all to follow an elusive dream.

What you usually fail to see is the fulfilling sensations of freedom and accomplishment, the relief of making it safely to the bottom, the pride and joy of your closest ones, and the fact that every single time you tell the story you will have to say “it definitely wasn’t as bad as it looked, and it was totally worth it”.

An MBA program opens doors you cannot even see before you get in here. An MBA degree is the magical key that unlocks those doors. Like I told a prospective student the other day, the job market is a battlefield, and this is just like getting a bigger gun. It may not guarantee success in itself, as you must know how to use it, but it will certainly increase your probability of success. “Success” here is defined by each one of us for our particular situation.

The difference between a battlefield or a free-fall parachute jump and studying an MBA is this: what’s the worst that could happen?

PS: I love the weather in the Fall as well; here are some pictures from a beautiful picnic we had with a friend at Mt. Gilead National Park, about 30 minutes north of Columbus. Like I said at the beginning: Enjoy the Fall.

“Why don’t we see what is going on? There are not so many years to be wasted…” – Stratovarius