5 Ways to Increase Work-Study Balance When Studying for an MBA

Business.com / Education / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Pursuing a higher-level business education while still working full-time is challenging. Here's how to make the best use of your time.

Pursuing a higher-level business education online while still working full-time has become more prevalent than ever as digital continues to transform the educational landscape.

EdTech Magazine reports one of today's top education trends even transcends a desktop computer environment, as it predicts M-learning, or learning on a mobile device, to become the dominant medium for learning.

Master of Business Administration degrees that allow full-time professionals to pursue a part-time business education or flexible MBA programs, fit in with the demand for increased mastering of business skills while still remaining agile in a role that supports current expenses, such as a mortgage or family.

While an MBA can mean a raise, better job performance, and increased opportunities, balancing current responsibilities with study demands is challenging. Here are five ways to increase your work-study harmony so you excel both in the workplace and as you pursue your MBA.

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1. Use a Time Management Application

Staying organized to make sure you turn in assignments on time, make your morning meeting, and pick up the kids from softball practice is key. Time management apps allow you to access your schedule anywhere, anytime, from any device.

Google Keep, which is accessible from your web Gmail application and can be downloaded on your phone, allows you to store lists ranging from grocery shopping to school assignments and check them off as you complete them.

If you have classes where you have to do presentations probably more than a few if you're an MBA student Prezi allows you to create and store presentations for free on any device. Evernote, which has project to-do list capabilities along with storage for pics and reminders, remains a top app for professionals and students alike.

2. Create a Study Sanctuary    

If you live with a roommate, partner, or kids, it's essential to create a space just for you where you can focus, listen to lectures, and study assignments. As outlined in this article on how to create an ideal home office, make sure the space is as far away from the main living area as possible to minimize noise and distractions.

Make sure it has plenty of light, lots of storage for class materials and electronics, and a chair you feel comfortable sitting in for long periods of time. You might even want to keep a yoga mat nearby for some reviving stretching exercises in between study sessions.

Communicate to your housemates that you need them to respect your quiet space while you're working there. Setting up a regular schedule to study helps you stay dedicated and on track. Maximize your study time while you're at work by using lunch or breaks to read for school or communicate about group projects, instead of gossiping with co-workers.

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3. Get a Study Buddy

For extra study support, enlist the help of a classmate or friend. Recruiting a study buddy provides benefits including:

  • It holds you accountable. Setting up a time to meet with a classmate ensures you'll actually focus on studying.
  • You'll learn from your partner. Tackling a course with someone else means they'll be able to alert you to techniques that work for them or help you better remember details.
  • Class becomes more enjoyable. Adding a social aspect to studying means you get to connect with someone else and look forward to the social study session versus having to go it alone.

As you study for an MBA, there's probably a good chance a co-worker would even be willing to help you study, too. They'll get to learn what you are and apply those lessons in the workplace.

4. Reward Goal Accomplishment

Balancing work with school can quickly lead to burnout if you aren't enjoying yourself in the process. While goal-setting may simply seem like something that only relates to work or study, Psychology Today reports people who are guided by goals are happier and achieve more than they do without goals.

Goal achievement releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, so writing down what you want to accomplish both work- and school-wise, then checking the boxes off, keeps you motivated and makes you have more fun.

To increase your chances of success, identify potential obstacles you might encounter, and strategize immediately how you'll face them. Focus on what you'll gain when you achieve your goals, and keep that in mind as you work toward them. Make your goals visible you could list them in one of your time management or productivity apps and reward yourself with each accomplishment.

5. Communicate With Professors

Even if your courses are online, having a strong relationship with your professors still provides benefits both for class and after graduation. Keep in touch regularly, since:

  • You'll be able to feel confident about asking questions and getting guidance. Knowing exactly what's expected of you helps you nail tough assignments.
  • The professor may be a worthy future reference. When your professor respects you and sees the effort you contribute to a class, they may be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you in the future or serve as a reference. USA Today reports professors are far less likely to do so when their students have little to no interaction with them.
  • A genuine relationship may improve your grades. Classes that are graded partly based on engagement mean you'll want to stand out in group work while communicating regularly with professors may have a positive effect when it comes to grade determination. Having an open dialogue also helps you stay engaged with assignments and motivated to turn in work on time.

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Being fully committed to both a full-time job and the quest for an MBA is tough, but it's much easier when you have clear goals and a strategy to help you achieve them. By connecting with fellow students and professors, and by letting co-workers know about your endeavors, you set yourself up with support that can be vital to maintaining focus.

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