Welcome to MBA! If you think your life will become extremely busy now, with no time to sleep, no time to talk to your family and friends, and sometimes no time to eat – you are right. But the good news is that you can control this. You can have an MBA-life balance, although you need to decide ‘how much.’
Divide your activities in four quadrants
Follow the Eisenhower Decision Principle and divide your activities in four quadrants. This will help you plan their execution effectively. Remember, all activities at a particular point cannot be both urgent and important. If that is the case, there is something wrong with your planning.
The ‘urgent and important’ quadrant should receive the maximum attention. For the rest, you need to make a sound judgement call, barring the ‘not urgent, not important’ quadrant, of course.
Stick to schedules
Create a matrix of your schedule, dividing the list of activities and the time you want to spend against them. Trust me, you are bound to break the rules in the first few months. In most cases, you will not be able to follow your schedule. But it will soon become a habit and you will start loving it. When you stick to your schedule, you will feel accomplished and will respect yourself more. Never assume that work-life balance is a 50:50 balance. The same is true for MBA and life.
Believe it or not: you can’t manage everything
Do you like to take everything on yourself? If yes, change this habit as soon as possible, else you will be in big trouble. It is good to feel that some things can be best done only by you, but at the same time, give others a chance. Train them and share the load. By training others, you do not forget what you know. In fact,you earn respect as a great mentor. So if there is an MBA assignment for a group of five people, do contribute, but let others also do their bit. You know how much effort you put in the assignment;but scores will be shared equally after all. By this, I do not mean not putting your 100% efforts, but motivating others as well to do their 100%.
Prioritize your priorities
At times, everything looks attractive. You could be in a position when your exams, a best photograph competition, and theater act timings are clashing with each other. There will be times when you will not be able to prioritize. What to do then? In such cases, assign time to activities that are most important for your long-term career goals, or are helping you to build a strong resume. At the end of two years, you should have a convincing story to tell – even if that means sacrificing few things for a better future.
Say no and do not feel bad about it
Our Indian culture sometimes makes us feel bad when we say no to others. Believe me, working in a global environment has taught me that saying no is not bad. People appreciate it when you are honest with them. When you do not have the bandwidth to take up something, please say no. And most importantly, do not feel guilty about it. It is worse to take up an assignment and not give your 100% rather than saying no upfront. Set the right expectations so that panic situations do not arise.
Manage your relationship well
By the time we go for our MBA, either we have a relationship or we enter into one soon. Let me be very blunt in saying that it is an added responsibility. Even when you have set the expectations with your partner, the bar of expectations will keep rising. Be prepared for that and let your relationship act as a motivation for your career rather than a hindrance. If your partner is in the same college or doing MBA elsewhere, provide inputs for their assignments and ask their views/inputs for your projects. It is fun and at the same time, your work is not hampered. People who have a working partner need not worry too much about managing relationships. The working partner will do it well.
Manage stress daily
With several activities running in parallel, stress is bound to happen. Make sure you do something that keeps you going. Join a sport, an art class, dance group, or whatever interests you, so that you have time for yourself. Take a break sometimes and watch a movie. Go out with friends for dinner. These small things create a big impact in our lives. Develop these habits before you join a corporate career, otherwise there could be a big trap waiting for you.
Let us be honest with ourselves and list down the things that matter to us the most. After penning them down, draw a pie of what percentage of your time from your life is required for each of those. The sooner we do this, the better it is. Sometimes, a simple effort of self-mirroring changes our life. Remember – no one knows you better than you do.
Contributed By : Virag Jain ( Class of 2010, IBS Mumbai).