Stay the Course

It’s hard to believe that the month of October 2010 is more than half-way over.   Eerily enough, it seems like yesterday when I started orientation at OSU.  But, in all actuality, it’s been well over 30+ days.  Now, I am definitely “not” going to be cliche’ and blurb, “oh time sure does fly when you are having fun!” because that would just be completely inaccurate – and that’s just not me.  In the wise words of fellow MLHR’er, Shawn Henderson, the more appropriate – and timeless – quip would be:

Get Ready to Live, People.

For me, the last 30+ days has been a test of sorts.  A test of my time management skills; a test of imposing my will over my fleeting emotions (i.e. watching “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel vs. studying for a BUS 863 quiz); a test of not eating my weight in Adriatico’s pizza at “every” employer informational meeting; a test of not hitting my “panic button” during statistics because it’s been ten years (yes, T-E-N) since I’ve calculated anything that’s even worth mentioning in this blog; a test of keeping a cool head in the midst of a hot storm; a test of how to take bad news and “still” keep a good attitude; a test to faithfully study all the reading material even when my hearts not in it.

For me, it’s easy to get caught up in every OSU social event, be a part of every clique-club-group or even “activity myself to death”.  This past weekend, I had to have a sit-down with “me” and talk to “me” about staying the course.  Staying the course is paramount.  I know the commitments I made to Ohio State Unversity and the Fisher College of Business’s MLHR Program.  Literally and figuratively speaking, I know I am facing tests of all kinds and I fully intend on passing every one.  Will I do it with a smile on my face?  C’mon, I’m a realist…No.  But I’ll still pass them, nonetheless.

One of my favorite movies is the 1994 drama film, “The Shawshank Redemption”.  The film portrays the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison wrongly imprisoned for murdering his wife.  During his time in prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis “Red” Redding, who is a man who “knows how to get things”.  Towards the end of the movie, Andy is roaming the prison yard with Red just before he’s about to break out of prison.  With his head hung low, he depressingly states that he’s either going to… “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'”.

I plan on “gettin’ busy livin'” while I’m at OSU all the while remembering to stay the course and finishing what has been set before me.

Dear Time, We aren’t friends. Love Christina

3 midterms, 1 paper, several group projects, 2 speeches, various interviews, plus normal everyday coursework. Sound familiar? If your work load looks anything like mine, this pretty much sums up your next two weeks. Major yikes. That doesn’t even include other priorities like keeping up with email, checking the Hub, Fisher Connect, My Fisher, Carmen, and other websites, keeping tabs on internship opportunities, going to the gym, putting in hours at work, making time for a significant other, etc., etc. That reminds me… I should probably give my mom a call to let her know I am still alive.

Man, it can pile up fast, can’t it?! If I surveyed my classmates on the toughest part of grad school so far, I wonder how many would consider “time management” the biggest challenge. For me, that has been something I’ve really had to focus on. Without a clear schedule, daily to-do lists, and color coded binders and notes (no, I’m not kidding)… I’d be lost. Everyone has their own time management style, but the trick is, no matter what your system is, KEEP WITH IT.

If you haven’t yet mastered your own time management groove, then here are a few tips that might help you along the way:

1. Figure out where you are losing time. One of the best things you can do is keep a journal of your time allocation for a day. Literally log your activities and how much time you spend on them. Then, at the end of the day, go back and see how much time was devoted to non-priorities. This exercise was an eye opener for me. Now I know I shouldn’t check Facebook, ESPN, or MSNBC when I have other priorities. Sometimes I even turn my wireless router off when I have an assignment that doesn’t require the internet.

2. Get a calendar – any calendar! I prefer Outlook only because I’m comfortable with it, but many of my friends use G-Cal or other tools to help them stay organized. Every day I block off time to work on certain projects and set reminders to make sure I’m on task. At 7:45 this evening I had a reminder to write a blog post – and here I am! The trick with this is sticking to your schedule. If you fall behind, it is hard to make that time up!

3. Learn to say no. (Or at least to prioritize.) Some of my classmates have been commenting on my ghost-like tendencies over the past couple of weeks. While I’d love to socialize as often as possible, I’ve learned that I have to say “no” to going out sometimes. It’s a bummer, but it saves me freak out moments the night before a big assignment is due. If you have a hard time saying “no,” then the best thing to do is prioritize. For example, I promised myself I’d go with my classmates for $3 Brazenhead burgers on Wednesday nights, and I’ve gone every week! Remember to give yourself breaks and reward yourself for your hard work.

I hope this helps some of you who are stressing for time! When in doubt, just keep swimming!

Not ready yet…

Last week drove me crazy– because of the career fair!

Time seems to fly with all the work in each course, but the highlight of this week was the career fair last Wednesday. Although I may not put much expectation on this event to get interviews, it is really frustrating… just arriving here for so short a time, I don’t see any advantage over local undergraduates, though we’re pursuing master degrees. Citizenship and language skills are biggest obstacles, and I cannot tell which one is a more severe issue. Actually, they are mutually related so it makes it more frustrating.

Facing this situation, I decide to modify my job-hunting strategies. Competing with local students is obviously not a wise choice. On the contrary, I think international students should take advantages of our foreign language skills, which cannot be easily substituted by local students. Keep on networking and try to get an internship. I still need more experience to update my resume.

It is really stressful to consider both coursework and job-hunting–too many but necessary things to do. My friend and I have determined to help each other to fulfill these tasks. Time management is really important. This seems to bring me back to those days when I prepared for GRE–simple objectives, specific plans, following them on time, tired but I was really productive. We’re going to live a “scheduled life,” reading before classes, doing homework, researching companies and position openings, and still have time to work out and engage in other leisure activities. The first solution we’ve come up with is to split up our jobs – we’ll try it out next week to see if it works!

Most Valuable Resources

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me… while I looked around for my possibilities.  I was so hard to please.  Look around, leaves are brown and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.      – Simon & Garfunkel

Don’t worry: it’s a gray day but no sign of winter.  It’s officially fall, week two is in full swing, and I have yet to find my groove.  Assignments, applications, and deadlines are fast and furious.  I am doing my best to stay on top of things but it feels like I’m chasing them down before tackling them.  With concerted effort, I know I can find my rhythm.  The key is to streamline my efforts.

Everyone has different goals for their MBA experience.  Believing that opportunities are limitless, I want to maximize my potential outside of the classroom just as much as I want to succeed in class.  THE PLAN: load my schedule to the fullest extent possible without severely compromising academic performance.  Visually translated:

My two most valuable resources: TIME and ENERGY

There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in each week.  At face value, no one person has an advantage over another; we each have the same amount.  What sets one person apart from the rest?  Utilization.  Spend time wisely and you can maximize results and broaden your experiences.  Being efficient (doing things right) is good . . . but being effective (doing the right things) is better.

My team is enabling me to maximize my activities.  I can tell they will be a great support system.  Like most other teams, we’re “chomping at the bit” to get started on group assignments.  That said, we’re not meeting for the sake of meeting.  We’ve opted for a strategic approach and acknowledge the need to use each other’s time wisely.  Patience is a virtue . . . we’ll have significant quality time together soon enough.

Many applications for student groups are due this week.  Additionally, I started my Graduate Assistantship with the Leadership & Professional Development Office.  Thursday evening, I make my way to Louisville, KY for the National Association of Women MBA’s (NAWMBA) Conference.  The Fisher College of Business is the host for this year’s event and I’m fortunate to be volunteering while I’m there.  Before I depart, I need to update my resume and continue to practice networking and interviewing.  Several intern opportunities are available at the companies attending the conference.  Interview fact: you can never be too prepared!

Want to be memorable?  Tell your story.

Statistical Reflections on my my First Quarter: Time

Picture 2For the last year I have been using a new social networking site called which allows individuals to track and share statistical information about themselves. Because I am an information design nerd I really enjoy entering my data everyday and looking at trends over time. One of the stats that I track on myself is how  many hours I spend a day doing different things. To the left you can see a copy of the chart daytum generated showing my time doing things from the first day of Fisher Orientation (September 9, 2009) to the last Fisher Event (a marketing hop to Cincinnati on December 11, 2009). The most shocking thing that I noticed is that I spent way more time doing school related activities (clubs, class, studying, job search) than sleeping. I spent 755 hours (31.45 days) doing school related things… while I only got 576 Hours of Sleep (24 days), a difference of 179 hours! Averaged out on a per day basis since the beginning of orientation (and including weekends) I have spent 8.25 hours a day working on school while only getting an average of 6.2 hours of sleep a day.  Needless to say… it has been an interesting quarter. Next up on my statistical analysis: The clothes that I have worn over the  last quarter and how business casual I really did dress!

Halfway through midterms…

Things I’ve done this week:

  • Taken an economics midterm (hopefully pretty successfully)
  • Cooked some homemade meatballs according to my dad’s super secret recipe (I joke! It literally fits on a Post-It note)
  • Practiced my midterm presentation (it’s about my guinea pigs)
  • Studied accounting to the point of dreaming about sheep hopping over little “T-accounts”

Things I still need to do:

  • Take accounting midterm (Wednesday AM)
  • Present about said piglets (Wednesday PM)
  • Develop 2 pages for Team W.A.M’s 812 project (by Wednesday at 11:59 PM)
  • Have a tasty dinner with my good friend from OC (Wednesday PM)
  • Read economics articles and a chapter in the text (Thursday AM)
  • Meet with my fellow W.A.M’ers to discuss 812 project and FSA 4 for accounting (Thursday PM)
  • Have first training session as a Kaplan test prep teacher (Thursday PM)
  • Have drinks with a former colleague who is in town from upstate NY (Thursday (very late) PM)
  • Fisher Serves Community Service Day (Friday all day)
  • Buy accessories for Halloween party at Mosaik (Friday PM)
  • Have an awesome time at said Halloween party with some of my friends from outside the MBA program (Friday PM/Saturday AM)
  • Sell handmade jewelry at the 1st annual GMP craft fair in Newark (Saturday all day)
  • Work on 860 individual case assignment (intermittent)

Wow. I thought maybe writing down everything would make it seem manageable… not so sure about that!

Good luck to all my classmates, as I’m sure their lists are as daunting (or even more so) than this one!


Today Was My Busiest Day Thus Far.

So here we are, five weeks into school, and the MBA time commitment has finally hit me! When I first interviewed MBA students, I would ask them what they did in their free time. Everyone always said “What free time?”. I thought that they were kidding, because I was thinking back to my friends who did business in their undergrad… what we called “B-School Preschool”… I thought this trend would continue. Boy was I wrong! In a good way though! I really enjoy being busy and feel the most productive that I ever have in my life. But today I realized how many things I need to do with my day: Homework, class, group meetings, graduate assistantship… so much. So much that I decided to make a busy complex infographic documenting my busy complex day!

my very busy day
my very busy day

Fisher Commons… No Left Turn!

I really enjoy living at Fisher Commons, its very convenient for getting to Gerlach, especially for my 8 am GA, its 30 minutes walking and less than 8 minutes of a drive. The only inconvenient thing is that, you can’t make a left turn into or out of the only entrance to the Fisher Commons. It is really annoying because it means making several inconvenient turn and tacking on precious moments to get home, to ease the suffering, I made a small infographic showing the best routes to get from the Fisher College of Business parking lot to Fisher commons, with the accompanying times… you should really print this out and tape it to your dashboard… or just look at it once… whatever you want.

Fisher Parking Lot to Fisher Commons Infographic
Fisher Parking Lot to Fisher Commons Infographic

Defragment your time!

It was 11:00pm at my apartment, with me sitting in front of the computer, watching my poor little PC went through the “defragmentation” process. Staring at the screen, while the screen probably was also staring at me, its tired owner, I suddenly wish “I were a computer”. Oh wait, I was too tired, what I actually meant was, I came up with a very bright idea—I should defragment my time!

A little more than two weeks after the first classes, my schedule already looks messy. A pretty lay-back first week brought me a horrible feeling, in return, when I looked at the “due items” on my second week timetable. Three group projects are due and one quiz is coming up, therefore all my off days were filled with group meetings. With lots of readings and other assignments, plus housekeeping stuff like opening accounts, paying bills, doing grocery shopping, and housework, I was really overwhelmed. The biggest problem is, where had my time gone?!

I did the math a little in my head and figured a large portion of my time was actually wasted on traveling back and forth among different places and being inefficient. Now the problem is resolved, or at least the situation is improved, with my defragmentation idea. So please allow me to proudly announce some tips for you:

1.Make or get a calendar planner. It has to show at least one current month and better if shows the days of the whole quarter so that you can see the big picture and do your game plan. It also has to be differentiated into hours every day so you can schedule in details.
2. Mark down all the “fixed items” in your planner such as classes, events that you must attend. Most importantly, highlight all the due days and exam days!

Now you are ready for the game. Every night before going to bed, list all the things you need to do. Fit the flexible items in time slots according to locations, estimated length of time, and priority. For instance, if you have a class on a certain day, you also need to deposit a check, drop by the grocery store, cook, do laundry, and read an 11-page article. You will first go to class, as that’s a “fixed item”. Then you will deposit the check since the bank is close to school. Get on a bus back home and start reading the article. If the grocery store and laundry place happen to near your house, then drop down the laundry after you get home, grocery shopping will follow. Done shopping, put clothes into dryer, then cook. Enjoy your dinner, do a little work-out pulling your laundry back afterward. Continue reading the article. When you get a little tired or bored, go fold your clothes or organize your wardrobe until you feel refreshed. Finish your reading.

Sounds good? I hope the idea helps! Be a good time manager!

Thoughts on the past 2 weeks

So it’s the middle of the second full week of classes… Here are some musings:

  • Can you get carpal tunnel from turning 100+ pages in an Economics text book? (I certainly hope not!)
  • Will I ever get a full (I use this term loosely) night’s sleep again? (Does it count if I dream about getting one?)
  • Have I ever been in a classroom with so many intelligent, engaged people? (Nope, but it’s great!)

I have to say, it’s definitely been a huge breath of fresh air to get to know so many interesting, smart, funny people, who are all driven to succeed.

I’m hopeful that I’ll get into a good routine in terms of my schedule – I think it’s going to be critical  to do some school work every day, especially as we begin the team projects in several classes.

However, I know it’s going to be important to carve out some time to really get to know my team members and classmates better – we’re in this together for the next 21 months – might as well be friendly 🙂

Good luck to everyone!