It’s that time of year when, after a long semester, MBA students are finally able to enjoy a respite. With finals behind them and a new semester on the horizon, they’re able to reflect on the semester now past and make adjustments for the one ahead.
With hopes of sharing what they’ve learned so that others may also benefit, we decided to survey current Consortium MBAs. We asked them to share some insight on the best ways they’ve learned to manage their time and, thus, their stress levels. Although varied in their responses, the following nine students emphasized the overall importance of being true to who you are and using that as a guide for how to prioritize your time.
What Tips Do You Have for Managing Time and Stress as an MBA Student?
Be very clear about what your priorities are so you know what you should say yes to and where to draw boundaries. Take time to reflect on where you are periodically. We are plagued by the self-imposed pressure that we have to get this right because XYZ is on the line; we forget that what we are doing today is what we dreamed of yesterday. Be proud of and thankful for how far you have come, and rest assured that you will make it through.
— Natalia Alvarez, Class of 2020, Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business
Block time in your calendar for everything. I block time for classes, club meetings and team projects, but I also block time to do homework and to go to the gym. If you don’t plan ahead and block these spaces out, you will be bombarded with last minute requests for your time, and you need to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself — so make sure you book time for you.
— Baron Munoz, Class of 2021, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management
Some days will be harder than others. The key is to be consistent and stay focused without burning out. Balancing recruiting, studying and social activities can take a toll, so you will have to be very intentional with your time. Don’t forget you also have to sleep! When I first started the program, I was averaging four hours of sleep a night and quickly realized that wasn’t sustainable. It’s all about time management. Allocating time to studying and being social will help keep you accountable as well as help you keep track of your time, so assign time to each on your calendar and honor it.
Also, get to know second years as much as possible. I don’t know where I’d be without them. They have helped guide me throughout the process and remind me that I don’t have to do it alone.
— Gloria Escobar, Class of 2021, Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business
Prior to coming into business school, identify what your top priorities are. What experiences are most important to you? Is it landing that dream consulting internship? Being top of your class? Serving as class president? There are so many amazing opportunities in business school, and you definitely want to be open to what may come your way; however, it will be easier to prioritize your time if you have an idea of how you want to spend it and know what is important to you.
Also, don’t compare yourself to others. You are going to be surrounded by incredibly inspiring people, but everyone comes into the MBA with a different story and with different goals. Don’t listen to the noise or [experience] self-doubt. Do what you came here to do. You’ve got this.
— Tory Paez, Class of 2020, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Find a workout buddy. I have a friend who keeps me accountable for taking care of my body. Usually, if I start my morning with a workout, I am able to sleep more deeply, eat better, stay healthy and focus more.
— Stefy Smith, Class of 2021, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management
Utilize online tools and applications that help with time management; make sure to master Google calendar early, and Trello is a fantastic way of keeping track of your to-do’s. Make sure to step out every now and then and enjoy time with your classmates.
— Jason Hernandez, Class of 2020, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business
It’s really important to value sleep and [understand] the power of saying “no.” You do not have to attend every social or professional event. Do not be a victim of FOMO (fear of missing out). Stick to your morals, goals and true self. Grow and challenge yourself, but never compromise yourself.
— Michael Vilardo, Class of 2021, UCLA Anderson School of Management
You have more control of your time than you realize. It’s a choice to be intentional with your time and prioritize what matters most to you for a given day.
— Mojisola O. Jimoh, Class of 2021, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
Two things: Remember what makes you happy, and disconnect when needed from your peers. I love playing basketball but noticed I wasn’t playing my first few months of school. With the stress of classes, consulting, recruiting and the social components of an MBA, at times, I was pretty down and overwhelmed with the MBA lifestyle. I wish I went to go play basketball earlier, because as soon as I got back into that gym, it gave me an outlet on a weekly basis to get through the craziness of the [first] year.
Don’t be afraid to disconnect from everyone. With the advance of social media and the constant group-up mentality of the MBA program, it is easy for even the most active extroverts to feel overwhelmed and drained from seeing other people. I had to learn to flip over my phone, turn on “Do Not Disturb” and have “turn-down Fridays,” as I called them, by going to the library at night or just watching Netflix and getting some me time to recharge. Don’t feel guilty about doing this; it was integral to my eventual success with finding a job as well as feeling happier and more present in my MBA experience.
— Joey Abram, Class of 2020, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business