How to Successfully Juggle Family, Work and School

WSU Online EMBA student smiles with family at graduation

Like so many students, I was deeply concerned about my ability to successfully add an Executive MBA program into an already hectic work and family schedule. Even during the program, I had few of those moments when I thought ‘what have I gotten myself into!?’ Despite my concerns, I did it!! Why was I able to power through? Because I had an incredible support network and a plan for success.

If you are considering an Executive MBA to accelerate your career but have concerns about balancing work, school and life, here are a few tips that helped me during my EMBA journey:

  • Call for Reinforcements – Don’t do it alone. Ask for help! I found the support I needed from three key areas.
    • My Family  Thank you Sarah, Molli, and Maeve! Dividing and conquering household chores and kid activities combined with solid communication, including discussing upcoming classwork requirements, we were able to make it all work.
    • My EMBA Colleagues – At the start of the EMBA program, I really hadn’t considered my fellow students as part of my support network. Was I ever wrong! My fellow students became one of the programs greatest resources. Their support ran the gambit from advice on upcoming courses to peer instruction with subject matter expertise. More importantly, during group assignments, we had the ability to cover down on each other’s family/work obligations. Having the team pick-up my slack one week, which I would gladly repay in subsequent weeks, allowed us all the ability to balance obligations.
    • Our WSU Faculty & Staff – I can’t say enough about the faculty and staff. They all had a genuine interest in our success in the program. They all were more than willing to work with me to navigate all of life’s challenges during the course.
  • Develop a Plan of Attack – By laying out my family and work obligations on a calendar along with the coursework requirements, I was able to identify conflicts and friction areas early and then build a schedule for success.
    • Work Ahead – Stick to the plan and get ahead when able! I found that falling behind just adds unnecessary stress. However, if/when you find yourself behind ask for help from your team and the WSU faculty and staff.
    • Make time for your family and yourself – As part of my plan, I ensured I made ample time for my family. They need you just like you need them. Also, cut yourself some slack - we all need a break. So be sure to make some time for yourself in order to stay healthy and stay focused on completing the program.
    • Cut the Distractions – Create the whitespace you need for yourself and your family by getting rid of the distractions. It’s different for everyone, but for me it was TV, Netflix, etc… It all came down to priorities, because we all only have so much time in the day.

Starting an Executive MBA can certainly seem daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it can be done without sacrificing your home life or your work. You just need a solid plan and stick to it. Perhaps most importantly, you need a support system around you that will help carry you to success.

By #CougaMBAssador Shane Sullivan