Tag Archives: Time management

TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 1

 Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

That's me. Hello
That’s me. Hello

Hello everyone

My name is Radu and I am a TMMBA student here at Foster School of Business. For the next 7 posts I’ll be your host, trying to bring insights into a week of a TMMBA student. Hopefully this will answer at least some of your questions about what it really means to be a part time MBA student, while dealing with a full time job. I am in class 14, with an expected graduation date of June ’15., which means that I basically just started. To be precise, I started exactly two months ago, so you’ll get a pretty fresh perspective on the topic. Sure, there was Immersion Week in December but that was so fun that it doesn’t count as studying.

However, let’s not diverge too much and get back to our topic. So how does a week in the life of a TMMBA student go? Let me tell you. Today is Monday, I love Mondays. Actually, I used to love Mondays, now I am not that sure anymore. Monday is my school day, so I wake up at 8 am and go to work. I work fast, as I can’t really afford the luxury of doing overtime – yes, in case you didn’t know, working overtime can become a luxury when time is your most important asset. I figured these things out in the first couple of weeks in the program.

Image courtesy or rentscouter.com

Don’t get me wrong. The time management and workload is all according to expectations. When you make a decision to do this kind of thing, you do your due diligence and chat with as many people as you can, in order to get an insight into what’s it going to be like – read blog posts, talk to alumni, visit a class, ask questions to staff members and so forth. If it doesn’t surprise you, it’s quite manageable. What you need to do is to get some time management best practices in place to help you optimize your schedule.

Coming back to our topic, it’s 4:30 pm already, so I am getting ready to head out. Today I’ll head down there earlier than usual as we have a great talk scheduled from 5 to 6. It’s the Tech @ The Top series, and today we’ll have Mr. Michael Schutzler, Chief Executive Officer at the Washington Technology Industry Association to share his stories as an Internet entrepreneur and angel investor – I wouldn’t want to miss that!

Six o’clock comes, so we all get ready for a new class. Today we have Accounting, or Financial Reporting and Analysis on its fancy name. But before that, we got some student presentations going on for about 15 minutes, for the Professional Communication class. It’s a good opportunity to improve your communication and presentation skills as you get peer feedback and a personal coaching session with the teacher, so we all pay close attention to tonight’s speakers. 6 15, class starts. I am already feeling a bit tired but luckily, in anticipation of tonight’s class, I already had a second coffee at about 4 so I’m hanging in pretty good. The Accounting teacher is great but my mind starts slipping towards the free ice cream that I’ll get at break time. Ok, back to the slides, how are we doing those T-accounts again?

Finally 7 45, break time. Ice cream, more chit chat. We laugh, we laugh good. There’s a general feeling of sympathy for the folks who struggle next to you. We make fun of our energy… or lack of it. 15 minutes later, back to class with fresh energy for the next 90 minutes. At 9 30 we’re done and I reach home at about 10. What’s left of the evening is my night off. Tonight I won’t study, won’t worry and won’t stress. Tonight I accomplished my duties and is now time to relax. I grab my wife and watch a movie. Tonight is all good. More, tomorrow.

Radu

Seasoned students and alums offer advice to new students

Starting the TMMBA program is exciting! There is a lot to learn, people to meet, and skills to build.  18 months is fast and it can feel a bit like a roller coaster ride at times. So, how do you stay on and get the most of your ride?  Current students and alumni have some advice to offer new students about to embark on their 18-month TMMBA journey.

  • Sit down before classes begin and think about what you want to get out of TMMBA. You can get as little or as much out of it as you want. 18 months is fast, so knowing what you’re interested in and who to network with is critical.
  • Trust the system that TMMBA has put in place. Much of the first quarter is about getting out of your comfort zone and adjusting to the new schedule and pace. Embracing the change with open arms will make your life at TMMBA more productive and enjoyable.
  • Use OneNote to take notes, and preferably in the cloud so they are stored remotely and updated across all of your devices instantly. Focus on setting a process in place early on for note taking and referencing.
  • Network and take advantage of all the additional opportunities offered by the program and the university, don’t see any of the aspects of the program as a “burden or distraction” but rather as an opportunity.
  • Find the best collaboration software for your team, and adopt it early; whether it’s Gmail or SkyDrive or Facebook Meeting Invites – getting a head start on where you will receive team updates and schedule meetings is critical in ensuring that you spend minimal time on managing this stuff.
  • Talk to your classmates. Learn about who they are and what they do. Make an effort to spend time with them outside of class. Turn them into your friends and contacts. The knowledge brought to the program by the students is immense and valuable and it is yours for the taking.
  • Prioritize, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and work with your study group! (And don’t forget to party every once in a while :) )
  • Focus on time management, do not procrastinate, and pre-read for class.
  • Be honest with your team mates about your expectations and desires for the program. Getting off to a good start is important and will set the tone for the rest of the program.
  • It’s only for 18 months. Make best use of the resources available to you.
  • Finish all of your reading ahead of time so you can socialize at dinner before class. You’ll have plenty of time to spend with your study group so break away from their safety net and use the time to get to know your other classmates, especially those in the other section.
  • Have fun. Network.

Work + TMMBA doesn’t mean you can’t still find time for fun!

Anuradha Raju joined TMMBA in January 2012 and is now halfway through the program. She has seven years of work experience and is currently a Design Verification Engineer 3 on the Microsoft Surface. We asked Anu how life has changed since joining the program and she shared this great graphic. It looks like Anu has really mastered the art of balance!

Life before and during the TMMBA Program

A Typical Day – Having ONLY 24 Hours in a Day Can Be a Good Thing

Guest post by Ron Cornell, Class of 2013

Eat. Pray, Love? Kids, Family, Career? What words describe your life? No question these days, WORK, SCHOOL, SLEEP describe mine – and in that order!

I knew life would get busier when I started the TMMBA program at Foster last year but I didn’t quite grasp exactly how busy it could get. “Work-life” balance has transformed into “work-school” balance since my life is now all about work and school!  That pretty much sums up my last 9 months and I’m confident the next 9 months will pretty much be the same.

While each day is different and brings new challenges, I have tried to create some “rules” and come across a few “tips” that allow me to maximize productivity and better cope with a busy life.

Sunday Nights are No Longer Mine.
Sunday nights watching True Blood with friends has been replaced with a lot of reading, reviewing lecture notes, working on class projects and discussing homework with classmates. My study group primarily meets virtually, as hectic business travel and distance often makes meeting in person prohibitive. Sundays tend to work best for us and we kind of accept that the day and most of the evening will be dedicated to the group and whatever assignments we have due that week.  At first it was annoying but once you accept that it will only be for 18 months and a necessary component to success in the program it becomes second nature and you adjust.

Manic Mondays.
Monday has become my busiest (and surprisingly favorite) day of the week.  And that’s not due to the “Monday Morning Madness” that typically plagues most of us at work, but because I have class on Monday nights from 6-9:30 pm.  I adjust my entire day (and sometimes week) accordingly – I wake up earlier (4:45 am), schedule all conference calls in the morning, push my morning workout to lunch, turn lunch into a heavy, mid-afternoon snack since I eat dinner (provided by TMMBA before each class) earlier and hit the freeway early enough to avoid rush hour traffic on the East Side.  Monday night dinners before class are a great way to catch up with classmates, finish some reading or put the last minute touches on a class presentation.

Traffic Schmaffic.
Traffic has become my friend and that’s only because I learned to stop fighting it.  And to be clear, I work from a home office so I don’t have a typical commute like many of my TMMBA colleagues.  Getting out of bed on my way to the computer in my home office by way of the coffee machine each morning puts my commute time at a grueling 45 seconds.  However, when I have work meetings in the city or need to get to class I can be in traffic anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours each way.  I try to make the most out of this time and do something productive for class.  Almost every lecture has a few discussion points that should be considered and/or prepared prior to each class and I use this time to think about those or sometimes practice a speech that I am about to deliver.

The 180 Rule.
My TMMBA class photo taken last November changed my life.  I was ridiculously overweight and tipping the scales at over 285 pounds – there, I said it!  Seeing that photo gave me the motivation to lose weight and could not have come at a better time in my life.  I knew that I needed to get back into shape if I was going to have any chance at successfully taking on the rigors of academic life in addition to an already crowded plate.  Believe it or not a MORE hectic schedule now forces me to plan better and that includes eating healthier and working out consistently.  The one non-negotiable task I set for myself every day is exercise – above all else, exercise. I am now down 68 pounds in 9 months and have 37 more to go to get to my goal weight of 180.  More importantly, I am sleeping better, feeling better, waking up earlier and have more than enough energy to dedicate to my class load every quarter. Oh some nice side effects – my blood sugar is no longer at pre-diabetic levels and my jeans fit better!

Making Choices.
The old saying “too much to do, not enough hours in the day to do it” was certainly true before I decided to go back to school.  I’ve always been obsessed with “to do” lists and now that obsession has become a critical tool for me to get through the day.  The BEST days are when I get through the entire list, the WORST when I get through none but MOST consist of getting through some but not all. I am 100% ok with that now.   Adding business school to my life, it is impossible to get through everything that I used to which forced me to learn the art of making choices. The first thing I do when I sit down at my desk is take everything on yesterday’s list that didn’t get done and write them on today’s “to do” list. I add everything else I’d like to accomplish that day, re-prioritize it whole list and begin my day.  I make a point of handwriting this out so that it becomes ingrained in my head.  I keep the list taped to a corkboard behind my monitor so that I am able to visually see the list get smaller as the day progresses.  Seeing the big picture allows me to make choices, separating “nice to get done” tasks from “need to get done” tasks. TMMBA blog now crossed off the list!

Oh, I forgot to mention coffee – lots and lots of coffee…