Work, Life, and Accounting Homework

Work/Life Balance. We’ve all heard of it, and some of us are better at actually finding that balance than others. Work/School/Life Balance? No one really prepared me for that one.

Indiana University Indianapolis Campus Center

Indiana University Indianapolis Campus Center

Seven weeks ago, I began my three-year journey as a part-time MBA student. I chose an evening program for several reasons, but largely because of the financial repercussions of no longer having an income and trying to juggle student loans and a mortgage. I also was aware that I want to build my network and learn from others with different backgrounds and who may be on similar career paths, so I didn’t care for a purely online program (not that there’s anything wrong with them, just a personal preference). So, that pretty much left part-time programs and I am fortunate enough to have had several options to choose from. I decided to attend Kelley School of Business and to do the evening MBA program through Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis which is catered towards full-time, working adults.

At the beginning of the semester, it didn’t seem like a huge change. My program has a hybrid approach, one class on campus and one class online per week. The first week, the online class was pre-recorded so I didn’t have to be at my computer during our scheduled class time and I could attend my weekly girls’ night as usual; nothing had really changed except adding some reading and homework. However, as time goes on and the more into the subject matter we get, the more and more I’ve been wondering how I’m ever going to be able to complete everything that I need to get done.

Work is a given. I am in the office Monday-Friday, 8:00 – 5:00 (or 8:30 – 5:30, depending on when I get there). Class on campus is Tuesday night 6:00 – 9:00 and online Thursday night.  So that leaves Monday and Wednesday evenings to prepare and do homework for the next class. Perfect. But then we have a paper due and a group project that requires research and group meetings. You may be thinking that weekends sound like a great time for that, and you would normally be right. But two of my best friends are getting married this Fall, so that means several weekends out-of-town for bachelorette parties and weddings. You know, the “Life” part. So around week 5, I was falling behind in my homework, my house was a disaster, laundry was piling up, work was stressful, and I just wanted to sit down, cry, and give up. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn.

I quickly realized that I can’t have it all no matter how much I want it to work. I’ve had to apologize to friends for staying home and not going to social activities, sacrifice sleep some nights (as scary as that may make me the next day), and prioritize my schedule to spend more nights with my laptop and books and less nights out and about. Is it easy? No. I didn’t expect going back for an MBA to be, but having an idea of how time-consuming it will be and then having the reality of it actually shoved into your face are two totally different things.

I wish I had some magical solution that I could share with you, some nugget of knowledge that I can turn into a cheat sheet for how to prepare for and get through this next step in your career and life. But I don’t. I do have a couple of small pieces of advice, though, that I’m slowly starting to implement and feeling better about my decision to go back to school.

  1. Organize! It’s how I come back from the feelings of completely overwhelmed and wanting-to-sit-and-cry. I have all my assignments for my classes in my phone and also a planner that stays with me at all times. It may sound silly, but even my notebooks and binders are color coordinated. When I’m running out the door last-minute in
    Coloured,_textured_craft_card

    Using easy organization tricks such as color-coordination can save precious minutes

    the morning to get to work, juggling my coffee, lunch, purse, and needing to find my books, it’s much easier for me to grab the two that are the same color and go. May sound trivial, but it’s effective.

  2. Think back to your undergrad days. Were you one of those people who got by with never doing anything outside of class, but still did well? (Lucky you.) Or have you just been out of school for several years? Well, prepare to re-learn how to study. My professors are amazing, but they also treat us like the adults we are who volunteered for this and worked for our seats in the class. They expect you to have looked at the material and learned it on your own. Class time is for working through problems and answering questions, not necessarily teaching.
  3. Take some time away from the books. I know this seems counter-intuitive based on what I was saying my schedule is like earlier, but you may need to have a little breathing time in there, too. Set aside a particular night every week for date night, take an evening off to go out with friends, or just have a quiet glass of wine and watch a movie at home without cracking a book. Keeping your sanity is key.
  4. Get to know your classmates. No one else understands exactly what you’re going through besides them.
  5. Finally, do whatever works best for you. This is your education, your time for growth, and you want to get everything out of this opportunity that you possibly can.

It has taken me a little longer than I would have liked, but I’m finally getting into the swing of things. You’ll get there, too, at your own pace. Take deep breaths and believe in yourself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some accounting homework to get to…

 

Courtney Fleckcfleck is a Digital Operations Manager at Indy Star Media, where she supports news media advertising account executives with analytics and sales data.  She holds a BS in Marketing and International Business from the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington and is pursuing her MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship part-time at the Kelley School in Indianapolis.  When she isn’t working, studying, or writing for HBSAccept.com, she enjoys reading, traveling, watching Indiana University basketball, Colts football, and spending time with friends and family.

The New Work-Life Balance

A few weeks ago I participated in a challenge at work to reinvent the way we work.  Below is what I posted….

I am often told by Generation Xers and Baby Boomers what Millennials are, what they aren’t, what they value, what they are good at, and what they aren’t good at.  Unfortunately, I am rarely asked my opinion.  So for those of you that might wonder, but haven’t asked yet, let me give you one perspective on what this Millennial values.

Let me be a bit hypocritical and provide my perspective of how Baby Boomers define work-life balance. It seems to me that Baby Boomers view work-life balance as an accounting exercise.  Of course, “balance” is dependent on the individual but most seem to do the accounting the same:  Time spent at work is listed as a “debit” and time at home is a “credit”.  The individual, with input from the individual’s bosses and family, decide how much time is spent on each to find the right “balance.”

This millennial is not interested in work-life accounting. To take this one step further, I do not even view work-life as two separate things.  I do not want to go to a job that makes me feel like I’m not alive, then go home to “accrue” enough time to repeat the process tomorrow.  That sounds really exhausting and likely to failure when one part of the equation requires more attention.  Work is a part of my life (a part that I really love!), but in order to make this work for me, life needs to be a part of my work.  What does this mean in practical terms?…

  • I want to text my wife and friends at work, “like all the time, lol”
  • I want to Facetime my daughter
  • I am not willing to miss bedtime more than two-nights in a row
  • I am almost always willing to work from home after my daughter goes to bed
  • I love Flexible work times and I will never abuse it.
  • I am usually too busy to work the weekend (laptops are not Hiking Trail friendly), but I am happy to do so when really necessary.
  • You can call me anytime that I am awake (vacations, weekends, holidays, I really don’t mind)
  • but, I would prefer that you text me, since it allows me to control how I work it into my day
  • Also, email me anytime, but you shouldn’t expect me to drop everything immediately.
  • You should tell me when you need things done, especially if you send something on the weekend or evenings.
  • I am going to check my email constantly.  (Thank you iPhone!)
  • I don’t mind always being connected. I will ignore my phone when I need to.
  • You should expect emails from me all the time (3 AM, yep.  7 AM on Saturday, yep.  Midnight on Christmas Eve, yep).
  • I want to check my personal email at work, as well as, take care of any other personal matters when they need addressing.
  • If I am at my desk, I will have headphones on. (Got to listen to my jams, Bro!)
  • I am glad that I can order dinner at work
  • I do not like it when you track how much time I am at work, because this is not a good predictor of how much work I am getting done.
  • I wish I could take naps at work.  This would really make late nights and long afternoons easier.
  • On-site services, such as cleaners, convenience stores, and health centers greatly improve work-life balance

Preparing for a great trip in Banff National Park, Alberta

Preparing for a great trip in Banff National Park, Alberta

A few broader themes:

  • Most companies value diversity, but sometimes it feels like we employ a narrow definition.  We want folks from different backgrounds (age, race, gender, nationality), but once we get here we are all expected to dress and behave the same way.  Diversity only works if you are making a mixed salad; everything tastes the same in a vegetable stew
  • I want to be able to have fun with my co-workers at work (safe for work fun, of course) and I want to be able to discuss work with my friends and family.
  • Most importantly, I want to be allowed to be myself always. Work is a big part of my life, I don’t like it when my family gets annoyed when I talk about it.  My life does not end when I get to work, I don’t not want to pretend to be someone different when I get here.