Earning an MBA online is a great way to juggle work and school, but all that time you’re putting into the MBA program has to come from somewhere. Where do you find the time to do everything well? It may seem impossible, but the trick is figuring how to manage the time you do have.
Effective time management starts with being honest with yourself. Sit down and write out all the responsibilities, job duties, family duties and school work you’ve got on your plate. With only 24 hours in each day (minus time for sleeping, eating and getting a little fresh air), you may discover that you’ve got more going on than you will have time for. You can’t do everything, and this is where you learn to say “no.”
Sometimes, No Is the Right Answer
Saying “no” means you are prioritizing your time so that you can work on the things that are critical to your success and well-being. It isn’t important to do everything, but it is important to do things well. Too often we spread ourselves out across so many responsibilities and tasks that we end up not doing any of them well. Putting too much on your to-do list can lead to poor time management.
Prioritization Is Key
Once you have a master to-do list, you can prioritize the items on it. Some of them will have deadlines, and it is critical to make sure you give yourself enough time to finish the work before the deadlines. Other jobs and tasks will be ongoing, and these are the sorts of tasks that should be baked into your master schedule or delegated completely, so that you are freed up to focus on the more important tasks.
Larger projects always have a number of incremental deadlines, and it’s important to break the project down into its component parts. Find an online calendar tool or use pen and paper to schedule enough time over the days and weeks ahead to make sure you can meet the deadlines.
Never Wait Until the Night Before
Writing that term paper the night before it was due may have worked in the past, but we all know it isn’t optimal. Sure, you got the work done, but was it your best work? What other parts of your life suffered because you waited until the last minute?
Those with good time management skills understand that the stressors inherent in last-minute work can affect your ability to function well. Sure, you can stay up all night to finish, but then you end up sleeping too much to recover. You lost more time after the deadline than you would have used if you had done the work in a timely manner in the first place.
Technology makes things easier, but it can also be a distraction. Use your tools in a way that supports your time management needs; don’t let them consume big chunks of your day. Social networks allow us to be more connected than ever before, but they can also be a distraction from the task at hand. Stay in touch, but remember to disconnect and get work done.
The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss talks about the difference between hunting field mice and hunting antelope. If you are a lion, you know that both will provide food, but only the antelope provides more energy through food than energy expended hunting it. Consider what tasks are like hunting field mice and what tasks are like hunting antelope. Learn how to focus on tasks and projects that will reward you with more time and energy than you put into them.
Learn more about online MBA programs at the University Texas at Tyler.