How to Manage an Online MBA with a Full-Time Job

How to Manage an Online MBA with a Full-Time Job

Pursuing an Online MBA while simultaneously juggling a full-time job can seem like a daunting task. However, with careful planning, effective time management and the right strategies, it’s entirely possible to strike a balance between your professional responsibilities and academic pursuits. 

There are plenty of practical tips and tactics to help you successfully manage your course load while working full-time, say business schools. 

Start by assessing your current commitments, including work hours, family responsibilities and personal activities. Then, allocate specific time-slots for studying, attending classes, completing assignments and other essential tasks. 

Also, be realistic about the time you can dedicate to your Online MBA each week – and ensure that your schedule is manageable and sustainable in the long run. “While designated times can vary over the year, it is important to increase and decrease allocated time in a purposeful and planned manner,” says Michael Nowlis, director of MBA programs – including the Global Online MBA – at Imperial College Business School in London. 

“Students who do not maintain clear boundaries between personal, professional and academic scheduling frequently find one activity bleeding into another, disrupting their balance and creating high levels of stress,” Nowlis says. 

It’s also vital to clearly define your academic and career goals to stay motivated and focused throughout your Online MBA program. Break down these goals into smaller, manageable tasks and prioritize them based on their importance and deadlines. Having a clear roadmap will help you stay on track and make better use of your time.

It can help to identify pockets of time throughout your day that can be used for studying or coursework. This could include commuting time, lunch breaks, or early mornings before work. Make the most of technology by using mobile apps or online platforms to access course materials and study resources anytime, anywhere.

Time management techniques

“To maintain a healthy work-life-study balance while pursuing an Online MBA, effective time management is crucial,” says Rosário Moreira, program director of the Digital MBA at Porto Business School, in Portugal. 

Experiment with different approaches to managing time to find what works best for you. Strategies such as the Pomodoro Technique (working in short bursts with regular breaks), time blocking (allocating specific time slots for different tasks) and prioritization (focusing on high-value tasks) can help you make the most of your limited time.

“Some digital tools, such as shared calendars and task management apps, can assist with this,” Moreira says. 

Moreover, Porto Business School stresses the importance of communicating with your employer about your Online MBA commitments and exploring flexible work arrangements that can accommodate your academic schedule. 

Some employers may offer support for further education, such as tuition reimbursement or adjusted work hours. 

Open communication can help alleviate potential conflicts between work and study commitments. “It’s beneficial for students to share their study schedule with employers and family to set expectations and receive the necessary support,” adds Moreira. 

Indeed, it’s a good idea to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, classmates and colleagues who understand and encourage your academic pursuits. Lean on them for emotional support, advice and motivation during challenging times.

But also recognize that you can’t do everything on your own. Delegate non-essential tasks at work and at home to free up more time for studying and coursework. It will give yourself more breathing room.

Stay organized

Keep track of deadlines, assignments and upcoming exams using a planner, calendar or digital task-management tool. Breaking down large tasks into smaller, actionable steps can make them feel more manageable and less overwhelming. Regularly review your progress and adjust your schedule and priorities as needed.

But don’t forget to prioritize your physical and mental well-being. Make time for regular exercise, relaxation and activities that recharge your batteries. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout.

“Diligent, smart and creative people always tend to assume they can take on more work. Try to be realistic about the number of modules you are studying at once,” says Owain Smolovic-Jones, director of the Online MBA program at Durham University Business School, in north-east England. 

Leaving gaps between studying is another common mistake, Smolovic-Jones says, because you will inevitably lose some of the muscle memory involved with study. 

He adds that you need to read the wording of assessments carefully, because ultimately doing so will mean that you produce more focused assignments. “The same advice also applies to the feedback you receive on your work – taking that on board can save you time in the future when drafting your work,” says Smolovic-Jones.

Finally, be prepared to adapt and adjust your plans as needed. Unexpected work demands, family obligations or personal emergencies may arise. Stay flexible and resilient in the face of challenges, and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t always go according to plan.


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