I believe you applied MBA program because you already (almost) achieved work-life balance. You realized that you could do something more, need a new challenge, and want to advance your future career. MBA schools advertise that how their programs were designed for working professionals and how convenient and flexible they are. So you thought MBA program is a perfect plan for you and soon you found yourself at the first class of MBA program. You are going to face the biggest but hidden challenge of your life– managing life-school-work balance. I am going to share what I learned after going through 20 months of MBA program.
After I started school, I re-realized time is truly limited. Amount of reading requirement, homework, and team activities were taking my time and energy. Especially, MBA program is very front-loaded. In order to maximize the usage of my most limited resource, I started to cut activities that is not my top priority. I stopped or reduced my time spending on cooking, exercise, meeting friends, grocery shopping, chores, hobbies, and even sleep. As a result, I got shingles at the end of the first quarter. It was not funny to get Shingles at age 30. My primary care doctor was very surprised and so do I. Then, I realized what I was doing is not sustainable.
I changed my work that gives less work hours and more flexibility. That made things a bit better. Then, I started to think about damage control. Beside my health, what did I neglect the most? The answer was my husband. I confess here, I often choose sleep over him. Although he is very important person in my life, I do not have a calendar that is dedicated for us. I do not have a blocked day planned ahead for us. I do not have to-do list for him. I was acting as if he is the bottom of my priority list, and I could not believe I was letting this to happen.
Are you showing this calendar to your family and friends?
School and work tasks are easy to complete and monitor. Syllabus and job description direct what I supposed to do on what timing. Letter grade and performance evaluation comes in regularly. I perform to meet those expectation and since expectations are clearly lined out, it is easy to achieve and go above. However, life and relationship are like air - foundation of our lives. Since it is so fundamental, we often forget how much we depend on it and to show appreciation. There is no written description or metrics that we monitor, but we know when it is absent.
Thus, my husband I started our shared calendar. We mark certain times and activities we want to do on the calendar together. We discuss it very early stage before our calendar gets crowded from school or work schedules. I made my relationship task list visible on my to-do list. If writing a thank you email to your interviewer is on your to-do list, writing a thank you email to my spouse should be on. We talk about our long term goals and short term goals in various aspects in detail, so when we need to make changes our plan we can understand the background of new decision. This mutual understanding of our goal gives us flexibility and how and when to be helpful to each other. Surprisingly, this method is very simple and easy. Everybody knows how to do it, and actually practice it daily basis at their work and school. Why not start doing it with your significant other?
All in all, remember your school can be done 2-3 years. You are stuck with your family and friends way longer. I hope you do not go through having shingles or emotional hole due to your negligence of life-school-work balance!
Sunny Lee is a Rady FlexWeekend 2016 student will graduate in June 2016 concentrating in healthcare management at UC San Diego Rady School of Management. She is a registered oncology nurse working at Scripps Health, currently taking a Social Media Marketing class this quarter.