This post is courtesy of Kyla King, a member of the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth class of 2013.
Probably the #1 question I receive from prospective students these days is: How do you balance “full-time” life with full-time business school? Add in a full-time job and that’s a recipe for some serious sensory overload!
This question has slowly become one of my favorites to answer as the solution is deceptively simple: Figure out what matters, and make time for it.
When I applied to the DFW program, I was certainly concerned about my ability to (effectively!) balance my job, my family, and my community activities with a full time school schedule, while at the same time maintaining any semblance of a social life. And as I sat through classes the first week in Austin, I wasn’t sure that balance was really going to happen at all. What became apparent pretty quickly was that “time,” as I had known it pre-MBA, was gone. Time became instead this very precious gift that I was given a limited amount of every day, but that I had the power to organize and manage to accommodate the things that really mattered. I began to look at my schedule, identify my key priorities and then fit them into these precious “time slots.” It became a puzzle of sorts, and it was my job to put it together as creatively and as purposefully as possible.
For example, my first year study group included a consultant who spent Mon-Thurs on the road, 2 students in Dallas and another who lived in San Antonio and commuted up to Dallas on the weekend. It seemed that the only time we could meet was via skype on Monday nights after 9:30 pm. Now I’m a morning person so late night study sessions have never really worked for me. Studying was a major priority though, as was my daily yoga routine. So, I moved my night time study period to the morning and on weeks of study group meetings, I’d get up at 4:45 am, study for an hour, go to yoga at 6 and be in the office by 8. Then after work, I could relax for a while before our call. Others in my group hated the early hours, but were night owls and could work on cases until 2 am.
Also during my first year, I was planning a wedding in another state. Again, I was forced to identify weekends during which I could fly from TX to NC and, since I was only in town for a day or two, had to make otherwise complicated wedding decisions very quickly. I didn’t have time to do otherwise!
Leonard Bernstein, an American composer once said: “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Maybe having not “quite enough time” is what truly motivates us to fully maximize the time we do have.
Either way, there you have it. My answer to the recurring question: How do I balance it all? You don’t. You figure out what matters and make time for it. Other things will fall to the side for a while, and you will pick them back up, purposely, when you are ready to. And in doing so, you’ll figure out a schedule that accommodates the things that really matter, like studying and spending time with family and networking and discovering new paths for your career. Easy, right?