Five tips for managing work/life balance as an MBA student | Top Universities
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Five tips for managing work/life balance as an MBA student

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Subhankar Agrawal

Updated Jul 11, 2022
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MBA student studies from home

An MBA offers an extensive curriculum and plenty of opportunities outside of the classroom, from case competitions to work placements, pro-bono consulting projects, involvement in MBA clubs and more. 

While an MBA is a hugely valuable experience, it can be a hectic time. As an MBA student at the Indian Business School in Mohali, I know that managing my time effectively helps to get the most out of my experience.  

Good work/life balance helps us to reduce stress and stay healthy. It enables me to be present in my studies and personal life, and be able to keep on top of my relationships too.  

These are five ways I have managed my work/life balance as an MBA student: 

Make prioritising a priority 

There are so many activities to participate in as an MBA student that you simply can’t do it all. When I invested in an MBA programme, I wanted to get involved in everything I could, but I had to pick and choose the things that I’d benefit from most.  

Prioritise things based on your career goals and the things you enjoy, but make time for things you’ve never tried before too. It’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new.   

It can feel exciting to get involved in a new project or club, but I’d recommend finding out how much of a time commitment it will be first.  

It’s also important to make time for rest and having fun with friends, because studying an MBA can be intense and focusing only on your studies can lead to burnout.  

Plan ahead 

I find it helpful to create a plan of my upcoming assignment submissions, club meetings, sports practices and time for myself. I start with my academic work to make sure I plan in enough time for study around my classes, and then align my other activities with the free time I have left. 

It’s helped me to even out my workload and avoid things piling up. Planning and execution is a skill that takes time to develop, especially remembering to dedicate time to relax.  

When I had a long assignment due, I’d have to cut out social events and study long hours, but breaking down the assignment into bitesize chunks so it didn’t feel so overwhelming helped.  

Planning something fun in after a deadline is a way for me to reward myself for the hard work I’ve put in, and to let off some steam.  

Look after your health 

Studying an MBA can take a lot of your focus, but it’s important to invest in yourself personally as well as professionally. Eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep are some of the best ways you can stay on top form. 

As difficult as it was to focus on preparing food sometimes, I tried to eat as healthy as possible and avoided lots of fizzy drinks, too much dairy and fried foods. I tried to add lots of salad, nuts, eggs and veggies to my diet for ultimate brain power. I also ate light meals four-five times a day instead of heavy meals, which usually makes me sleepy and lethargic. 

I think exercising is therapeutic. It is refreshing, lifts the mood, and makes me feel confident. Even a long walk qualifies as exercise, which effectively reduces stress.  

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for me to get a minimum of six hours’ sleep every night. If I’m sleep-deprived, everything is a struggle for me. I avoid meeting people and joining group discussions, I eat unhealthy foods, spend a lot of time on social media and then I feel guilty for wasting so much time.  

Good sleep keeps me in good spirits and helps me to stay focused.  

Stay connected with friends and family 

Leaning on your friends, family, or partner can be extremely helpful when you’re stressed and in need of a break. I call up my father regularly and speak to him about my course and my ideas. After our conversations, I always feel better which motivates me to continue working harder toward my goals. 

I spend a lot of time with my MBA friends when we’re able to catch a break, watching movies together, sharing food and playing cards. When I’ve spent time with other people, I feel refreshed and ready to get back to my studies.  

Being part of a group you can depend on always leaves a good feeling in my body. I value my friends a lot and join them for as many hangouts as possible. 

Cut down on social media and TV 

Scrolling through my social media feed was the biggest waste of time. Some of my friends recommended that I delete Instagram, which I did, but then my screen time on YouTube increased. Practicing restraint and monitoring my screen time helps me to remain focused, sleep better and increases productivity.

I allocate a fixed time during the day to check my social media channels and stick to that time. For me, this has been the trickiest and the most difficult discipline to implement.  

Ask for help when you need it  

In MBA education, there will be many things that are entirely new for you, and areas you’re stronger or weaker in. Asking for help when you need it means you will get the most out of your education, and allows you to continue growing. At my university, we had peer-to-peer sessions where students help each other to keep learning.  

Trying to figure everything out on your own isn’t effective. Working with others and asking your academics for more support can help you to quickly get past the parts you find difficult, and onto bigger things. 

There is no shame in asking for help and it’s beneficial for everybody involved.  

 

With some planning and a few techniques to manage your time, you’ll be able to get the most out of your MBA experience and take time for yourself.