There is no doubt that an MBA is an incredibly time-consuming, challenging experience. The course load, homework, job searches, recruitment and extracurricular activities can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. In the end it is all worth it, but navigating your way through the process can seem a little tough at times.
That’s where time management skills come in.
I’ve always been known for taking on every project and activity possible. Currently I’m juggling many activities – I’m on the executive committee of both the annual MBA Tournament (MBAT) and the Luxury Club, trying to maintain a healthy GPA, traveling several times a month, keeping an active social calendar including hosting dinner parties and events for 20-50 people at a time, and moonlighting as a chef for Our Kitchen. Put this against the backdrop of the MBA and all the work that the academics and job-search process entails, and it makes for a very busy schedule indeed!
Often people ask me how I’m able to manage so many things and still show up to classes (most of the time). For me, it’s all about task management and planning ahead.
Here are two of my best organizational tips:
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Before there were such things as smartphones and apps, I used to rely – heavily – on Post-it Notes. Today, I rely on time-management applications. While virtual post-it notes are fine, I now use Google Keep to keep track of almost everything in life. It contains my to-do lists, grocery shopping lists, notes and project deadlines. I even get email notifications when deadlines are coming up.
Another trick of the trade is the Gmail plug-in Boomerang for Gmail – it has been a life-saver! I start and end each day planning and writing and emails. I also schedule the send time for my emails – this allows me to get through a large volume of emails, knowing they will be sent at the appropriate time for each recipient. This is especially useful for sending job applications that span different time zones, ensuring that I apply during working hours.
Being able to handle a large workload with many different projects isn’t for everyone. It’s important to find your balance and stick to it. One way I’m able to handle all these different subjects is by allowing myself downtime when I know I need it.
Take time to plan your vacation time, enjoy alone time and make sure to schedule time with friends. Often I travel on weekends, which allows me to disconnect and relax.
At the HEC Paris MBA, we are very lucky to be in such close proximity to amazing cities and countries. Exploring new places is always fascinating. These adventures have allowed me to learn about history, architecture, people, cultures and foods across a variety of countries.
Successfully juggling your MBA workload – or any workload – can be daunting, but it’s all about the balance. One of the best skills we gain from the MBA isn’t found in our core textbooks. It’s how to properly prioritize and efficiently manage our time while still maintaining that sense of balance.
Written by Maria Elena Martyak