As the second half of the spring quarter kicks off it's unbelievable to understand just how much we have accomplished thus far. In classes, we are wrapping up our core and beginning to apply our knowledge in our enterprises. As social organizations and clubs we have been inducted into leadership roles and are planning events for next year. In our long term careers, we have secured internships and begun defining our professional paths. As a community we have identified ourselves as the class of 2014, a positive, social and motivated group who cares about one another and seeks creative opportunities for challenge. Next year's class is on campus, visiting classes, interviewing and forming itself as the Class of 2015. And it has only been seven months.
However, as I look at my upcoming day, I admit, it's not without hard work.
5:30 alarm goes off
6:00 actually get out of bed
7:15 leave the house
7:45 print assignment due at 8:00
8:00 Brand class
9:45 meet about organizing Prom Night
9:55 Economics class
11:35 Global food fiesta set up
12:00 eat something
1:00 review emails and notes before meeting
2:00 meeting for Enterprise project
3:15 make copies for group
4:00 group meeting
5:30 run to grocery store
6:30 get home, walk dogs
7:00 dinner with hubby
8:30 IT homework
10:00 CCE homework
If you think this is some special day, or just "Monday," you are missing the point. This. Is. Every. Day. Monday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday. It never ends. Between classes, networking with future colleagues, organizing events for clubs, catching up with friends, and being married, I have enough work to fill eight or nine days a week. Prioritizing is an understatement. You always think that next week will be less busy, or tomorrow you can get it done. It just doesn't happen.
I'm living under the bus and just learning to enjoy the view.
The best advice I have received about work-life balance is schedule it. And start early. The sooner you learn what your priorities are and how to say no, the easier it gets.
Be honest with yourself. If you don't want to do it, chances are you won't do the best job of it anyway and it will probably take you longer to get to. You'll eventually dread it. Just say 'no'.
Check yourself. Look at your schedule and assess how much time you are spending on each activity. If you want to prioritize your enterprise but you are only working on it two hours a week, you are not prioritizing it. Schedule the time and don't book over it.
Schedule time with friends and family. It sounds sad, but do it. Some of the best advice I got about going to work was schedule time for family. It is very easy to see the effects of getting an assignment done or working another hour on a project. It is must harder to see the immediate effects of spending that hour with family or friends. However, the impact of NOT spending that time with family is detrimental. It is easy to isolate yourself and end up miserable but successful. Schedule it.
Try to enjoy yourself. Travel. Eat out. Experience life. None of us has any money. However, while we are in school, we get time off. We have no money, but we have the time. After graduation, we will have the money, but we won't have the time. I'm not telling you to go into massive debt. But prioritize what you want out of your MBA experience and don't feel guilty when you go for those things.
Forgive yourself. You're not going to do all of it all the time. Every type A personality thinks they can and tries. I'm no different. But sometimes an A- or a B isn't the end of the world; especially if it means you made a memory, built a relationship, or even just enjoyed a spring day in Minnesota. Learn to let go a little, it will make your experience better on the overall.
A wise professor of mine once told me that each class rides a plane together. You get on the plane, you aren't sure where you sit (first class or by the bathrooms), the plane takes off in the direction of your MBA and regardless of the turbulence, your aisle seat, the terrible food or the crying baby, you all get there at the same time. Some of you had cocktails on the way, some of you will need an airsick bag. But the important thing is to stay on the plane. You'll get where you are going.
If I can take that one step further and say, you can actually find ways to enjoy the ride, but you have to plan for it. Bring a good book. Fly with a friend. Play games. Show up prepared and be open to what comes your way. Life moves pretty fast.
You will accomplish plenty in your lifetime. It all starts under the bus. Learning to enjoy the view requires defining your perspective, knowing what you want, seeking those things out and learning to appreciate what you have when you get there.
Take a breath. Believe it will be okay. Smile.
After all, it's only Monday.