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Work-Life Balance for the MBA

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Tools & Resources for Managing Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing During Your MBA Program

Adding an MBA to an already busy life creates many challenges for the newly admitted MBA student. Many of these challenges can have an adverse impact on the MBA student’s work-life balance and wellbeing as well as program performance if not properly managed. In order to manage these challenges properly, the MBA student should have:

  • An understanding of what is met by work-life balance

  • A framework or mental model for managing the challenges

  • Access to resources such as books, articles, websites and blogs for sustaining the understanding

  • An MBA peer group, immediate supervisor, co-workers and subordinates, and family members that are each supportive and understanding of the challenges provides you, whether a newly admitted or currently enrolled MBA student, tools and resources to help address the “must haves” listed above so you can more effectively manage work-life balance and wellbeing while earning your MBA.

Understanding MBA Work-Life Balance

MBA student understanding starts with a working definition of work-life balance. BNET, a CBS Interactive, Inc. web site, provides a generally accepted definition of work-life balance as “the equilibrium between the amount of time and effort somebody devotes to work and that given to other aspects of life.” The dichotomy developed in this definition places an emphasis on, “giving employees more control over their working arrangements in order to better accommodate other aspects of their lives, while still benefiting their organizations.” Yet it may be the “other aspects of life” that are the most challenging for you as an MBA student to manage while you are earning your MBA.

With this in mind, let us try to understand how adding an MBA program affects equilibrium. Basically two questions need answering. Will adding an MBA program have an effect on your work-life balance and wellbeing, and if so will there be a greater effect on the work side or the life side of the work-life balance equation? Answering the first question is somewhat easier given the all-inclusive nature of what we typically categorize as work-life and other aspects of life. However, this same all-inclusive nature makes it more difficult to answer the second question. More importantly, this all-inclusive nature or high level view of work-life balance makes it difficult for MBA students to use the concept to manage the challenges they encounter while earning their MBA. From an MBA students’ standpoint, the working definition needs to have more of a tactical focus. In addition, most of us prefer having a framework or mental model with tools and resources that can help us manage our challenges.

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements – A Work-Life Balance Management Model for MBA Students

Tom Rath and Jim Harter, in their book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements provide an alternative framework or mental model that seems to be a good fit for MBA students. Their five essential elements model expands the principles of work life balance into manageable categories with measurable attributes for each so tracking and proactive management of challenges is possible. Their five essential elements include:

  • Career Wellbeing  how you occupy your time or simply liking what you do every day

  • Social Wellbeing  having strong relationships and love in your life

  • Financial Wellbeing effectively managing your economic life

  • Physical Wellbeing  having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis

  • Community Wellbeing the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live

Additionally, the book provides online access to Gallup’s Wellbeing program and assessment tool, the Wellbeing Finder. Using this tool, you can:

  • Generate a scorecard with your overall wellbeing score and your score in each of the five essential areas of well-being

  • Track your wellbeing over time, and compare your scores to demographic groups

  • Create action items for taking action to improve your wellbeing

  • Use the Daily Tracker to measure your wellbeing right now

  • Discover patterns in your life that affect your wellbeing

The Wellbeing Finder appears to be a good tool for MBA students since it establishes a well-being baseline for monitoring changes in well-being while participating in an MBA program. The MyeEMBA Blog has several articles that discuss how you can benefit from applying wellbeing principles and practices to your own unique situation. These same articles also provide suggestions for ways to manage proactively each of the essential elements of wellbeing. Examples include:

MyeEMBA Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing Resources for Newly Admitted or Currently Enrolled MBAs

Work-life balance or wellbeing resources that specifically address the needs of newly admitted or currently enrolled MBA students are limited. Of the resources identified, the following seem to be the most relevant. Updates to the list occur after a review for relevance of the proposed addition is complete.

This Blog site is dedicated to helping you as an MBA student gain the knowledge and learn skills that will help you differentiate yourself from your peers while in your MBA program. Differentiation is important because you could be competing with the 100,000 plus MBAs graduating each year. MBAs sharing their own experiences and promoting the concept of sharing to other MBAs help build a community that benefits all MBAs that follow.

Differentiation by Managing Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing

How does managing work-life balance and wellbeing help a newly admitted MBA differentiate themselves from their peers? Examples include:

  • They exhibit pleasure and enjoyment in what they do each day, including the MBA program, which may not be the case with their MBA peers

  • The quality of the relationships they have with their peers is stronger than the relationship other peers have with each other

  • They have financial security while some peers regularly demonstrate financial insecurity

  • There is vibrancy in their physical health while some peers regularly have health issues

  • They are proud of and engaged in their local community while their peers seldom discuss community involvement

If you enjoy what you do, have quality relationships, are financially secure, healthy, and are engaged in the local community there is a high probability that you are also performing well in the MBA program and that others see you differently in a positive way. All of this results from proactively managing work-life balance and wellbeing.

Join our MyeEMBA Blog discussions and learn how others are managing work-life balance and wellbeing issues.

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