As the proverb tells us, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And nowhere is this more true, or relevant, than when it comes to studying for a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
That’s because, while most master’s degrees focus only on mastery of a single subject, your typical MBA tackles 14 subjects, with a mini research dissertation thrown in for good measure. For any student, no matter how intelligent or diligent, a curriculum like this translates into significant stress; particularly for the part-time MBA student who has to juggle completing the degree while generating an income.
Given the rigours of any MBA course, maintaining a balanced approach is imperative. Firstly, students have to consider the importance of their health. The pressure of completing an MBA is always going to take its toll on both body and mind, so while it may initially seem justifiable to sacrifice sleep, nutrition, or exercise to keep up with the fast pace set by an MBA, ultimately this strategy has the very real potential to cut anyone’s MBA dreams very short.
Then, just as proper sleep and eating are, and always will be, part of a healthy, holistic and ultimately successful working-living lifestyle, so too is effective time and stress management.
Many MBA students make the mistake of scheduling their class work directly following an activity that has already drained their physical or mental energy – such as a typical working day. A more effective approach is to schedule this work to take advantage of those hours when the individual is at their best – be it first thing in the morning or in the calm quiet hours of the evening.
Not only will taking these relatively simple steps assist with the achievement of MBA success, but they are the type of good attitudes and habits that will stand any MBA graduate in good stead when they enter the frantic world of work and begin building their career on the back of their qualification.
The ability to balance studies, work and life is also vital in terms of establishing and maintaining the support structures that are so important for any student. Staying connected to those around you and ensuring that you never sacrifice your personal relationships in order to attain your qualification is essential. Without the support of family, friends or partners, getting an MBA will be far more of a challenge than it needs to be.
For the part-time student, guarding these relationships is especially important as it is likely that they will be the only thing that gets him or her through the inevitable ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moments that are bound to arise during the course of the degree. An unhappy personal life is a sure way to decrease one’s chances of successfully completing an MBA, so investing in maintaining relationships is probably as important as investing in the MBA course itself.
And speaking of investing, it certainly makes financial sense to ensure a balanced approach to getting an MBA. Let’s face it, enrolling for an MBA is a significant financial investment. Surely then, it makes perfect financial sense to do everything possible to protect that investment in order to reap the returns in the long term.
The bottom line is: successfully balancing an MBA degree with life and/or work is the best way to get the most out of the experience and come out the other end of the process a brighter, more well-rounded and effective person who can take up a position of leadership in the business world.
Siegie Brownlee is the CEO at Regenesys Business School.