IE Business School Online Masters
Ted Pawela
October 1, 2010

There were two questions I found myself asking a lot before enrolling in IE’s IXMBA program.  One was to anyone I could find who had already graduated from an EMBA program, and the question was what they felt they had learned that they wouldn’t have picked up on their jobs.  I was surprised to find that the answer I got most often was “time management”.  It wasn’t skills or critical thinking or anything else I might have expected, but how to deal with an overbooked schedule filled with more things every day than most people would imagine doing in 3 days time.

This leads to the second question, which was how much time I needed to plan on committing to the program each week.   The answer to that one varied a bit, but 20-30 hours per week was most common.  Turns out that the number of hours per week isn’t really a relevant guage, because after a while you sort of stop thinking about hours and minutes and just do what it takes to get through your text reading, case reading, discussion board reading, discussion board writing, case analysis writing, case analysis commenting, financial accounting calculations, cost accounting calculations, and business plan writing.  Oh, and lest I forget you also do your “day job”, and take at least a little time to spend with your family.  If it sounds extreme, I can attest that it is.  If you think I’m exaggerating, I can assure you I’m not.

I don’t know how many hours that takes, but I can tell you what a typical day looks like.

5 am:   wake up, coffee and discussion boards

6 am:  more coffee, read text/cases; write text/cases

7 am:  make breakfast for son before his school, make bag lunch, small talk before day.

8 am:  work – day job.

noon:  lunch while reading discussion boards.  Begin research for comments to post.  Perhaps post a comment if prepared.

6 pm:  end day job.  Family time if not on the road.  Dinner with colleagues if traveling.

9 pm:  tuck son into bed if at home.   Read discussion boards, post comments – at least one on each active board.

10 pm:  read text or case studies.  Draft case analyses, business plan (entrepreneurship), or commentary to team members case analyses, and/or accounting calculations.

midnight:  hopefully, sleep.

It’s not always exactly this schedule, of course, but this what a pretty typical day feels like.  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays relieve us of the message boards as they are closed then, but the case analyses and calculations are particularly heavy now since assignments are due on Monday.  Ah, Monday – the day most people dread because the weekend is over and they are back to work.  I love Mondays now.  Assignments are submitted, the discussion boards don’t open until the next morning – gotta love Mondays.

So back to the questions.  Am I learning time management?  Without a doubt.  My wife tells me I’m burning my candle from both ends, I’m almost always tired, I haven’t been to the gym in a while, but I learned that actually, I can handle it.  It’s hard, even grueling at times, but it’s also rewarding.  And the good news is that while I can agree that I’m learning time management, I’m confident that I’m learning a lot more, too.

How many hours a week?  I have no idea but when it’s all over, and even now in the midst of it, it’s time well spent.



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