Brandeis International Business School

How to become an expert juggler

Learn how to schedule your time as a graduate student and gain one of the most important skills needed to succeed in business school

Student studying

People often say time is money, but in grad school time is knowledge. Effectively juggling your projects, class work, part-time jobs, social life and sleep will be the greatest challenge you face when entering any business school program. 

Scheduling Course Work

I’m going to start by outlining how I like to prep each week. I typically like to do this process on Thursday or Friday to plan for the following week. It helps to know what I need to do over the weekend and what can and what can’t wait until next week.

By www.wattpad.com

By www.wattpad.com

First things first, I turn on some high-energy music to keep myself motivated — lip syncing and dancing is optional, but definitely encouraged. 

I like to use a blank sheet of paper for this process. However, you could also use a paper planner or any one of the hundreds of apps for your computer, phone or tablet. 

Step #1: I go through all of my class syllabi, one by one, and write down the class, date and assignment for each thing due within the next week.  

Step #2: Similar to step #1, I go through the list and sort the assignments by date. Sure, you could probably do this all in one step, but I like to make sure I’m not missing anything. [TIP: add time estimates for the assignments so you have a better idea of when you can slot them into your schedule]

Step #3: Optional - add a section to your sorted list for events like project milestone due dates, group meetings or club deliverables.

Last semester, I stopped at step #3. Once I had the sorted list of what was due each day, I worked from that list. This semester, I decided to add one more step to help me plan my week:

Step #4: Yep, we’re making one more list! Write the days of the week on the left-hand side and for each day, decide what assignment you’re going to work on. I personally find that I can only work on one big thing each day — read a case, draw a dynamics diagram, write a paper, etc. By planning out which assignment I work on each day, everything has its own time slot and there’s never a time in the week where I’m overwhelmed with work.

Apart from finding a planning system that works for you, you also should develop study habits early in the semester — you’ll thank yourself later! Do some trial and error in your first weeks to find the best way for you to succeed. And, of course, you’ve probably heard that you should start working on projects early and spread the work out over the semester — it’s definitely the case here!

Calendar Management

Another skill you’ll need when finding ways to juggle everything is how to manage your calendar. Seriously, calendar everything! All of your classes, group meetings, work hours and events should be added to your school calendar.

  • Planning to chat with your advisor for 15 mins next Tuesday? Add it to the calendar. 
  • Trying to squeeze in a 20 minute workout? Add it to the calendar. 
  • 30 minutes to prepare a schedule for next week? I bet you can guess where this is going — your calendar!
  • Have a date this weekend? Add. It. To. Your. Calendar!

Keeping your calendar up to date means you’re never double booked and you’ll always know when you can squeeze in a few extra minutes of class work (or sleep!). 

Also, amidst all of your project group meetings and club events, make sure to schedule some “you time.” Taking care of your mental health is just as important as studying for a quiz or doing homework! Add calendar events for mental health breaks like therapy appointments and time for your hobbies. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you feel like your assignments are snowballing and you’re not sure how to dig out from a mountain of cases and projects, talk to someone. Ask fellow students or your Teaching Assistant for help. We’re all in this together and in my experience, Brandesians are always there to lend a helping hand. If you need more assistance, you can also reach out to your program advisor to see if they can recommend campus services that may be able to help you.

Student Insights features blog posts and videos produced by current students and recent graduates of Brandeis International Business School. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author.

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