Work-Life Balance Tips for EMBA Students | TopMBA.com

Work-Life Balance Tips for EMBA Students

By Helen Vaudrey

Updated March 18, 2021 Updated March 18, 2021

Personal life. Work life. Professional life. These are all things that EMBA students have to juggle while studying. So is it any wonder that some students struggle to cope with achieving a work-life balance?

For many of us, waking up in the morning and trudging to work for the usual 9-5 (or whenever you finish…) grind is an arduous prospect. We come home aching and tired and look forward to some relaxation in the evening – yet this is not the case for an EMBA student.

An EMBA student is expected to complete university assignments, keep up with colleagues in the boardroom and spend quality time with their family on a day-to-day basis. These expectations can be difficult to meet – unless you’re a superhero – so it’s important to plan how you will achieve a work-life balance while you’re enrolled onto an executive program.

To take away the added pressure of compiling your own list of de-stress tips around your busy schedule (trust me – we get it), we’ve compiled a list of work-life balance tips to assist you on your journey to dealing with stress.

Maintaining the life half of work-life balance…

It is key to have the support of your family before applying to an EMBA program. If your spouse is not on board with you taking on such a demanding work load, then this could cause ruptures at home. In May, we interviewed London Business School EMBA graduate Jessica Dugan, who emphasized the importance of family support in achieving a healthy work life balance.

“If you are married then I would strongly recommend that you have to have complete support from your spouse before applying, which I was lucky to have, because it makes your time studying so much easier,” says Jessica.

Family can also assist with dealing with stress relating to professional life. Taking days away from work and study with your loved ones will give you some much needed distance from the pressure of day-to-day life. Your cohort may seem like your new family as you delve deeper and deeper into your advanced business education, but don’t forget about your family back home! You will need support from both your cohort and your loved ones once enrolled onto a course.

 Some universities, such as ESMT, host ‘family days’ so that students can invite their friends and loved ones to experience EMBA life. At IESE Business School, family support plays a crucial role in the EMBA program ethos.  The school website states that: “Students' families play a fundamental role throughout the program. The EMBA is a joint project that needs the support of all the people who share in your everyday life. We therefore firmly believe that they should actually participate in the program. During the course, different events are organized for family members so they can get to know your classmates, the facilities and the entire IESE team.”

Encouraging family members to engage with the program, even in a very small way, can open lines of communication about the demands of your course and how your family can deal with these demands as a unit. Showing that your university is committed to helping you achieve a work-life balance is very helpful too, so be sure to research your school’s stance on achieving a balance before enrollment.

Maintaining the work half of work-life balance…

It’s not just your family that you will need to work harder at communicating with while studying. If you’re enrolled in business school, you will be required to leave the office intermittently for your program. Students and employers should be prepared for this in advance.

 If you’re out of the office for any period of time then it could be advisable to compile a short presentation or report for your managers about what you covered over your EMBA weekend or intensive week. Opening these lines of communication will ensure that your managers are aware of the skills you are gaining for the company while you’re out of the office, and you will feel satisfied that your superiors are aware of these improvements.

In some cases, you may be acting as a mediator during communication with your lecturers and your company. If you feel like your workload is too demanding one week due to an incredibly busy period on your course, then allowances may have to be made. Allowances to cut back on coursework will be more difficult to obtain, however. EMBA degrees rely on incredibly intense bursts of study periods which are extremely difficult to catch up on if you’re not in attendance – and perhaps even more importantly, if you are not engaging regularly with your cohort.

If sacrifices must be made on time commitments, then it is generally advisable for these sacrifices to be made on the side of your company. Taking time off an EMBA degree for work is counterproductive. In most cases, your company is footing the bill for your executive education, so cutting back on your professional workload in order to maximize your potential on an EMBA is advisable.

Dealing with stress though lifestyle choices

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is paramount to achieving a work-life balance. If your body is not receiving a balance of nutrients then you will not perform to your highest standard at work, and if your body is not energized sufficiently then you will not have the drive to commit to family time at home. A healthy lifestyle is proven to be a fruitful way of dealing with stress… Sorry, we couldn’t resist!

However, being healthy is not only achieved through the food you eat. Getting the right amount of sleep and exercising regularly is also crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Sleep and exercise consistently appear in work-life balance tips across the web. It is recommended that adults get around eight hours of sleep a night so that they can function at their best. Failure to do this can result in fatigue and a general grumpy disposition. Nobody wants to deal with a grumpy and disengaged person in the boardroom, and even less so in a tight-knit cohort!

The prospect of cramming exercise into an already busy schedule can seem like a daunting prospect if you are trying to achieve a work-life balance at this moment in time. Surely, taking an hour out to exercise deflects from your family time or revision? Well, actually this is not the case. Exercise is a great way to wind down and release any tension you may be feeling in relation to your work or personal life. If your workload is heavy and you’re feeling a little out of control of the factors around you, then exercising can help you to regain a feeling of control in your life. It will boost your adrenalin, giving you a temporary high, and then will subdue you into an overall positive mood for the ensuing hours of your day or evening. Recognizing the importance of your general health while enrolled onto an EMBA degree is key to achieving a good work-life balance.

Find the right EMBA format

Would you suit an evening EMBA or a weekend EMBA? Would you prefer one year of intensive study or to have your course spread out over two years? These are vital things to consider when applying for your ideal course.

If you have a family to think about, then it may be worth applying for a longer program in your home town.

International EMBAs will require a bigger investment of your time and money. Students will be required to jet from country to country to attend weekend lectures and will spend a large chunk of the year living out of a suitcase. While this might sound like the more glamorous and adventurous option for some people, for others it would be entirely unideal and impractical.

Consult your company and the people close to you when finding the right EMBA program for you. A work-life balance depends on you making the correct decision for your family, your company and yourself. As stated earlier, some universities cater towards students with family commitments or an unusually heavy work load to consider, while others programs actively encourage a fully immersive globetrotting executive lifestyle.                                                                        

This article was originally published in July 2015 . It was last updated in March 2021

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