How I Made Time for Myself as a Busy MBA Student

Written by: Shannon Alexander, MBA ’23 

The first semester of business school can be overwhelming. At times it may feel like there is not enough time in the day to do anything but homework and attend class. Here are my suggestions on how you can make time for yourself during the first semester.  

  1. Go outside. I go for walks on campus between classes and once a week with a friend after class.  Even on days when classes are back-to-back, I still go out to get fresh air. A mere ten minutes will improve your concentration and mood. 
  1. Schedule quality time with friends and family. It is easy to become so immersed in the program that you forget to socialize. Turn to your friends and family inside and outside of the program for emotional support. Never underestimate the power of laughter.  
  1. Exercise. Schedule at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise relieves stress, helps with focus, concentration, and sleep. I teach a yoga class once a week. This forces me to exercise during my class, as well as throughout the week in preparation for said class. 
  1. Start your day with intention. We cannot control the stressors we may face at school, but we can control how we begin our day. The way your day starts can set the tone for the entire day. I like to wake up early, enjoy a healthy breakfast, and practice 20-30 minutes of gentle yoga and breathing exercises. During my commute to campus, I pump myself up for the day by jamming out to one of my favorite Spotify playlists. 
  1. Develop a sleep routine. Sometimes it is necessary to stay up late or wake up early to meet a deadline. There are always exceptions to the rule, but I try to stick to the same 10:30 PM or 11:00 PM bedtime every night. I log off my laptop thirty minutes to an hour before going to sleep and have a night setting on my phone and laptop that removes blue light. I do my best work when I am well-rested, so sleep deprivation is a non-negotiable for me. 
  1. Be patient. There will be exceptionally stressful moments where you may doubt your abilities or your place in the program. This is normal. In moments like these I like to journal, meditate, or talk to a friend who has completed her MBA degree. I journal and meditate to help me observe my thoughts and not get swept away by any doubts. Talking to my friend gives me perspective. Recently, I was venting to her about an upcoming exam that I was stressing about. She reminded me that in the grand scheme of things, this one exam wasn’t going to make or break me. She acknowledged my drive to do well on the exam but assured me that I would be fine. It was a helpful reminder that my pre-test anxiety was temporary. 

Find the self-care activities that best energize or recharge you. There will be days where you have every intention of exercising or going to bed early, and it simply does not happen. Forgive yourself and release any guilt you feel. 

I like to “give myself permission” in these moments. I do this by either writing a reassuring note to myself in my journal or calling a friend or family member. Sometimes you need someone to tell you that it’s okay. It sounds silly, but it works. Remember that you are surrounded by people that are invested in your success and do not be afraid to lean on them. The first semester is challenging but taking charge of your mental and physical health and well-being will help you to be more resilient in the face of these challenges. 

Bio: Shannon Alexander is a first year MBA student at the University of Buffalo. Hailing from Texas originally where winter coats were unnecessary, she moved to Buffalo when she was 13 and now considers herself a naturalized Buffalonian and is the proud owner of multiple coats.  

Shannon attended SUNY Geneseo for her undergraduate degree where she received a B.A. in Vocal Performance and a B.A. in Communication. She then went on to receive her M.MUS. in Vocal Performance from the University of New Mexico.

Prior to moving back to Buffalo, Shannon lived in NYC for 8 years where she first pursued an opera singing career and then worked in a marketing and communication role creating content for a nonprofit in Manhattan. While at UB, Shannon hopes to sharpen her analytical and leadership skills.  

After graduation, she hopes to work in marketing and/or consulting. When Shannon’s not studying or at school, she enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, writing songs, singing, cooking, travelling, and exploring Buffalo. 

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