Balancing Act: How to Juggle Work, School and Family Life

Tim and Emily Davis with their new horned frog!

Any MBA program is rigorous, but for students balancing family, work and school, the stress can feel overwhelming. If you’re considering returning to school for your MBA but aren’t sure how you can juggle your coursework with everything else in your life, just know that it can be done. 

The Neeley School’s Professional MBA (PMBA) program is an evening-only format, making it accessible to motivated professionals looking to earn an MBA without putting their careers on hold. Kris Hestner and Tim Davis are two PMBA students who are learning the delicate balancing act of work, school, marriage and parenting. 

Hestner, PMBA ’16, is taking advantage of the program’s evening classes while working during the day as an Oil/NGL negotiator at XTO Energy, a job that also requires him to travel. Hestner and his wife of five years are parents to a 10-month-old son. 

“I am taking classes three nights a week, so on nights I don’t have class, I work on homework and try to spend as much time with my family as possible,” he says. 

Tim Davis, PMBA ’17, works as a structures engineer at Southwest Airlines. Like Hestner, Davis and his wife are also new parents. Life may be chaotic, but Davis leans heavily on his wife for strength and comfort. 

“I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my incredible wife,” he says. “She encourages me every day and supports me through every aspect of life.” 

If you are a professional who's considering entering an MBA program, use these tips from Hestner and Davis to help achieve balance among work, school and family life. 

Prioritize commitments. Family, work and school come first. That often means saying no to other opportunities that arise such as travel or social engagements. Keep in mind that in addition to the hours spent in class, an MBA program requires time for homework, group projects, networking and more. 

Stay organized. This is essential, says Davis. “An MBA program is not something you want to get behind in because there is so much to learn and group members will be counting on you,” he warns. 

Carefully manage time. Plan out your weekly calendar, building in time for family, homework and group projects. 

Utilize technology. Collaborative tools such as Google Drive can help you stay connected with classmates and team members. Even the most basic reminder tool in your phone can be useful in managing tasks, says Davis. “This seems to help me keep things in line,” he says. “I have also found that keeping a consolidated calendar with detailed notes can be a lifesaver.” 

Make sacrifices. The biggest challenge, Hestner says, has been learning to say “no.” He has had to turn down invitations for trips and social events in order to make time for family commitments, work and school. “The costs are high, but so are the rewards,” he says. 

The juggling act can be a challenge, but you will “surprise yourself with what you can manage when you put your mind to it,” Davis says. 

To learn more about the Neeley School’s PMBA program, click here.

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