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Wellness & Busyness in B-School

Ah, business and busyness. I have met many a friend or peer who didn’t know that busyness was an actual word, and in the realm of business school, it’s simply taken for granted that yes, we’re all busy. So what? We all get stressed and overwhelmed by all that we have to do, so beyond the occasional vent session to our friends, partners, or family, is there really anything we can do to grapple with it all and feel at peace? It also doesn’t help that Western society, in particular big cities, glorifies busyness, or at least the appearance of constant hustling. Add on the age of social media, where the ability to follow someone’s digital footprint of their career ascension on LinkedIn or Instagram can often leave one comparing their own journey to others’, and wondering if there could always be more that they are doing.

We crowdsourced the Stern community to see what students thought of the concept of being/appearing busy, gathered some tips, and celebrated/commiserated over the endless bustle of the human rat race. As we head into finals and the holiday season, please be mindful to take care of yourself and those around you, and that there are plenty of resources to turn to if you need support. We’re all in this together!

n = 118 survey responses 

Between classes, recruiting, work commitments, family, friends, and something called sleep, it’s a wonder anyone is able to fit everything into 24 hours. A whopping 69% of people at least sometimes feel the pressure to be or appear to be busy, suggesting not only the reality of an MBA program, but the need to be perceived as being just as hardworking as everyone else. On a merrier note, and a common trend amidst the open-ended questions below, was that most seemed to value friendships, relationships, and social time as a way to destress and stay grounded, it being the last or next to last thing given up when people are too busy. And as it should, because giving up social interaction is akin to health detriment.

Thanks to all who answered our survey to share insight into how they manage (or struggle to manage) everything that encompasses the MBA experience.

What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?

The most common responses were to go on a walk, watch Netflix, or exercise.

  • Watch a sports game. I love my sports teams and don’t get to watch them as much with everything on my plate. So when I can sit down and enjoy a full game, it’s a personal treat.
  • Dance class
  • Learning beyond work/class
  • Revise the study materials that I am not familiar with. I feel relaxed once these are out of my way.
  • Hangout with fiancée, vent to friends/family, exercise, sleep in
  • I personally really love a lazy day in bed reading. Once feeling well rested after a lazy day, cooking (especially baking) makes me happy.
  • Weekends are for fun/relaxation only. Grocery shopping and chores are for weeknights with school work when possible. Helps you reset and remember to enjoy your (sometimes) short time in NYC
  • Taking Instagram hiatuses – you don’t realize how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling even for a minute and then it takes more time to get back into your work
  • Complain then eat then run
  • Take a bath or canoodle my gf, aka Netflix ’n Chill

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do? If yes, what are some examples relating to business school and how do you cope?

  • In the Langone program, it sometimes feels like there are just aren’t enough hours. Have to get client work done for my job, study for an exam, write a case study, and find a time my team can all meet for a group project. I really just try to allocate my time and take it one piece at a time. I say I feel like I’m also getting a masters in time management.
  • Honestly, no. Work hard and manage time efficiently!
  • Yes. Recruiting is intense, which it is supposed to be but I do believe that sometimes it is made harder than it needs to be. When the pressure gets too much, I take a walk along the river or sob to Taylor Swift. (This is anonymous, right?)
  • Yes, last year I was running a business, taking care of a newborn baby and attending school part time. The way I survived was by having very clear priorities and a strict schedule where I mapped out time for work, school and time for my child/family. I also made a single spreadsheet that had my assignments for all my classes which helped me map out which weeks would be more intense than others. The other thing that helped was allowing myself to receive support and help from those that surrounded me.
  • Yes. The constant to-do lists I manage makes it very stressful. When you’re in business school, you have a personal to-do, a work to-do, and a school to-do. Adding that third element is stressful. I think the best way to cope is to stay organized and prioritize what you have to do. Also, although school work is very important, sometimes it has to fall to the bottom of the priority list as you need to take time for your own personal/mental health and also keep your job that pays the bills!
  • Before I made a Google Doc of all my class deliverables and their deadlines, I felt really lost and like I was going through the motions and if one thing was added to my plate, everything would crash down. I sat down one day in early October and started listing out the deliverables, gave time estimates for them, and split them up by week. Just KNOWING what I have coming up is half the battle of not getting stressed out about it.
  • Yes, I think it is very natural to feel overwhelmed at times, especially if you’re a procrastinator like me. Between classes, club responsibilities, and life things come at you quickly. So what I like to do is literally take a day of rest and not answer any emails or text. Go to the gym and maybe treat myself to a good meal. Also I don’t believe in suffering in silence so it feels good just to let someone know how you’re feeling.
  • Yes. An example shouldn’t be necessary, but balancing full time work, class, volunteering, a social life with friends not in any of those three activities, some semblance of a dating life. It’s hard!! To cope, I plan. Anything is scary when it’s big and conceptual. But broken down and prioritized? Almost anything is achievable. I just need a plan to achieve my top priorities and some wiggle room time to do my lower priorities if I feel like it.
  • I am happier when I am extremely busy than when I am bored.
  • If anything, business school keeps me grounded. It gives me a solid goal I’m working towards with tangible deadlines and deliverables, while work can be wacky with all that.
  • Constantly. As a student without an undergraduate business degree, staying on top of classes and consulting recruiting is nearly impossible. Coping by trying to do the necessary activities (homework, casing, etc.) with people I like.
  • Since this is anonymous — I’m in AA. Used to cope with drinks now it’s with devices and fellowship.
  • Yes. Often. For feelings of being overwhelmed that are related to Stern, I remind myself that “I wanted to attend b-school” and regardless of what other things may be going on with work or family/friends or anything else that is competing for my attention, I need to prioritize whatever I have going on related to b-school above many of those other things (within reason). When I communicate that to myself and communicate that to the people at work, home, friends etc. it helps reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Aside from Stern, I work full time, I’m a father of a 3 year old, I’m in the USAF Reserve, and I’m a runner. What helps me to stay alive with all of that is motivation, good planning/time management, healthy balance in life, family time, and a couple cheat days per month when I watch Netflix, drink beer and eat pizza! 🙂
  • Sometimes I just gamify it. I give myself points and achievement awards for completing tasks.
  • Not right now but I feel like I should be. I’m dealing with feelings of not feeling busy enough but trying to remember I don’t have to be busy to be happy.
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