Working toward an MBA can be one of the most rewarding decisions you will make in your business career. You know you’ve made the right decision in pursuing the graduate degree, but even the most confident student can find daunting the challenges of managing coursework and staying on track with academic progress.
Consider yourself as your own project manager. Organize, plan, schedule, assess. You can put project management tips to work for you to make earning your MBA one of the most successful endeavors of your career.
Your pursuit of a project management MBA doubles in value when you put your online lessons to work in your day (or night) job. Your current occupation can provide a real-world, real-time laboratory where you can exercise new project management skills.
Here are some tips for the MBA project management student.
Planning Will Keep You on Track
1. Use a Planner
Organization is the key to time management, and the key to organization is writing down everything. Find a study planner or a Gantt chart to pull it all together. Crossing to-do items off your list is a great way to get anxiety under control and accomplish your goals. You may prefer one of the many digital planners and calendars available or a hard copy. Here are tips on how to use a student planner.
2. Draw Up a Detailed Schedule
Establishing a schedule early on for coursework and homework can help you stay on top of everything. Focus on a list of goals and activities you should complete each day. This will help you set priorities. Use a daily planner to schedule all the things you must do every day and set up a timeline. Consider using a Gantt chart to check your progress. Online students will find a weekly schedule a reminder to log into the online classroom, a reminder to meet assignment deadlines and encouragement to speak up in discussion posts. Set aside certain parts of the day to review course material before leaving for the library to study or work. Regular daily review prevents you from feeling overwhelmed.
3. Designate a Quiet Study Area
Balancing coursework and family demands discipline. Find the best places and times so you can devote concentrated attention to your studies. When you are away from that designated spot, be ready to take advantage of any moment that offers study time. Carry your coursework on your laptop or smartphone for your commute to work or doctor’s office wait.
Practicing Interpersonal Skills Builds Leadership
4. Learn to Work as a Team
Team projects are a major part of online MBA study. The interaction will help you study, complete homework assignments and develop papers.
Building relationships and gaining your team’s support will give you a chance to build confidence in your leadership. The experience will give you a head start in the business world.
5. Work on Communicating Well
Develop a communications plan and work on communication that is open and clear. Make sure everyone in your team project has the information needed to make team decisions. Keep your instructors and advisors updated on your progress and your needs. You will find that flexibility is an important part of communicating well.
Communication is one important area where you can put your MBA studies to work on the job. You’ll learn that your online MBA project team is a microcosm of the teams you lead at work. An effective project manager must listen to team members who are concerned about risks or obstacles to accomplishing the project. You’ll make better, informed decisions and earn their trust by listening.
Put Technology Tools into Action
Even if your job is not actually technical, a good project manager must have familiarity with the company’s software, platforms and programs.
And a great project manager needs enough technical knowledge to be able to assign themselves to some of the project’s tasks. You’ll win respect you need to manage the project team by demonstrating you can complete tasks.
Studying for an MBA in project management will introduce you to new technologies. The tools you’ll use to stay on track with your studies and communication with those involved in your online classes can be applied right now to your job.
Consider exploring some of these. They will enhance your job performance as well as your academic standing.
•Asana and 10,000 ft. are customized Excel spreadsheets and programs that track notes and assist with task management.
•Track time and expenses with programs like Harvest.
•Investigate keyboard shortcuts for your web browser, email and other commonly used programs. The time those shortcuts save you now can be invested both in study priorities and at work.
•The simple layout and visuals that make Trello a great tool for tracking and evaluating MBA project team tasks mirror the site’s effectiveness in effective task management at work.
•Use Gantt charts to check the progress of a project. Programs like Smartsheet have already built-in Gantt charts that can save you time when you want to view your project’s timeline.
•Prepare for the day when tech failure robs you of email or your laptop freezes. Find a system like Basecamp to back up your information across multiple devices so that you can stay in touch. The user-friendly Basecamp keeps you up to date with its mobile app.
The people you meet in your MBA program are important contacts for your career. Take advantage now of the time you spend in online chat and discussions, with professors and meeting alumni to get to know them. For further information on building long-term business relationships, consider how to network in business school.
Build Balance and Flexibility into Your Life
7. Take time to socialize
Socializing is not only an opportunity to expand on networking and boost your future business career. Meeting people and taking time out for relaxation keeps you fresh. Relaxing with others makes returning to the books later more productive.
8. Manage your semester schedule
Pair classes that balance out your workload during the semester. Look for a somewhat easier course during a semester when you’re taking a difficult or technical class that will demand a lot of study time. Considering that balance will help you manage your workload. Once you’ve registered for classes, study the syllabus to find the busiest period of the semester and plan your work.