Achieving the impossible: how to balance work, life and an MBA

01 March 2023

Distance learning MBA* participant, Michael Brooman, shares his advice on how you can balance your work and life commitments with the MBA.

If you are thinking of applying to do an MBA, you probably are the type of person who already strives for excellence in your career and personal life. Likely, you are already very busy, if you are anything like me, you have a demanding full-time job, a busy life outside of work, and a family who you want to spend time with. The idea of adding hundreds of hours a year of studying and assignment writing to your year may fill you with dread, but it shouldn’t. With the right planning and commitment, it’s very possible to achieve an MBA whilst working full-time.

The challenge of achieving an MBA while working full-time

There is no denying that an MBA is a huge commitment. It takes up a considerable amount of your time, headspace and money! Each of the MBA formats has different demands and in many cases different costs. I chose to study the MBA at Warwick Business School (WBS) due to its flexibility, prestige, teaching facilities and competitive cost as one of the top schools in Europe and indeed the world.

Benefits of studying an MBA while working full-time

There are many benefits to studying for an MBA while working full-time. For starters, it allows you to continue working and earning a salary while you study. This can be especially beneficial for those who are supporting a family, as it can help to ease the financial burden associated with studying.

Another benefit of studying for an MBA while working full-time is that it allows you to apply your learnings to your job in real time. This can help to make the learning process more relevant and can help you to be more engaged with the material. Every module I’ve taken so far at WBS has had a near-immediate impact on my role, and I’ve been able to apply learnings straight away. You may also be able to use your current job to help you complete assignments and projects, as you are likely to have a close understanding of your business and so can apply examples. Finally, studying while working full-time can allow you to network with peers in the same field and with professionals in the industry.

Different types of MBA programs

There are several different types of MBA programmes available at WBS, and it’s important to understand the differences between them.

The Full-time MBA programme requires a significant commitment of time and energy, as students are expected to attend classes and complete assignments regularly. Part-time MBA programmes, on the other hand, are more flexible and allow students to work at their own pace.

Time management tips for juggling work, life, and school

Time management is essential when it comes to juggling work, life, and school. Here are some of my top tips to help you succeed:

  • Make lists: Making lists can help you stay organised and focused on what needs to be done. Lists can help you prioritise tasks, set deadlines, and keep track of your progress. Make sure you are listing deadlines and aligning these with your work schedule.
  • Get organised: Create a designated space for studying and set up a regular study schedule that works for you. If you are organised, you can get ahead of your study programme and not leave yourself under pressure at the end of an assignment.
  • Say no: Learning to say no to distractions and extra commitments can help you stay focused on your studies. If like me, you are choosing the two-year MBA, taking two years to focus on your personal development will pay back over the years, so don’t let other distractions get in the way.
  • Take breaks: Breaks are essential for staying productive and avoiding burnout. Make sure to give yourself time to relax and recharge. I find myself better able to study if I have a break between finishing work and starting study. Rolling straight into the study after a long day at work is tiring and counterproductive.
  • Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Ask your family and friends for support, and reach out to your professors for advice. It is important to keep your family and friends in the loop about your schedule and commitments. This can help them understand why you may not be available at certain times and can help you get their support. Communicate with your family your assignment deadlines, and manage their expectations around those deadlines, as you are likely to be more stressed than normal!

Strategies to make studying easier

Studying for an MBA while working full-time can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to make it easier. Here are my tips to help you succeed:

  • Break up large assignments into smaller tasks: Breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks can help you stay on track and make progress on your assignments. Use the marking scheme and understand exactly what is being asked. Most of the assignments will have a relatively low word limit, so you need to get straight to the point (not like this blog!)
  • Utilise technology: Technology can be a huge help when it comes to studying. Take advantage of online resources, online study groups, and online learning tools to make studying easier. The WBS online portal is fantastic, and I wish it was about when I did my first master's in engineering. Also, having access to the course textbooks online is helpful, you can annotate, highlight and dive into more detail using the online textbooks.
  • Take advantage of free time: Look for opportunities to study during your free time, such as during your lunch break or on the train ride to work. I travel to London for work and it’s about one hour each way. The online portal from WBS is great at breaking modules down into learnable chunks that can easily be completed in one hour.
  • Reward yourself: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. This can help to keep you motivated and focused on your goals. When you get your assignment marking back, take time to understand the feedback, and take time to celebrate your grade. If you didn’t get the mark you wanted, you can celebrate the learning opportunity!


Balancing work, life, and an MBA while working full-time can seem like an impossible task, but with the right planning and commitment, it is achievable. It’s not easy, and you will have to make sacrifices for the short term, but the reward of learning and improving your knowledge is worth it in the end.

*Please note that the Distance Learning MBA is now titled Global Online MBA.

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