Just over one year ago I started my MBA journey, and cannot believe that I am almost halfway through the taught content already. The first year was a fantastic learning experience, and I’m hoping this year will be even better given that I have chosen all but one of the modules (and I would have probably selected the compulsory module anyway given the choice) – see here for a list of the modules I am studying.
I always like starting a new year as I feel it gives me a ‘clean slate’ – I can change my approach and objectives without being held back by how I did things the previous year. So, what will I do differently in 2013?
Take a new approach to time management
I have written previously about the importance of time management whilst studying for an MBA, and this was definitely a big challenge last year. In 2013 I have decided to approach this differently; instead of allocating myself a specific number of hours for study every day (eg. 3 hours on Monday evening, 5 hours on Saturday, etc), and then distributing this time based on an average of 8 hours per lesson, I am going to try studying based on a schedule of lessons/activities to be completed each week.
To prepare for this, I have mapped out all the lessons, TMAs and assignments that I need to complete for each module, and then allocated them to a specific week over the duration of the semester. Then, I will approach studying on a week-by-week basis, rather than the day-by-day basis of last year; if I have a free evening then I will study more that day, and have more time free at the weekend; whereas if I am busy on a number of evenings I will expect to spend more of the weekend studying. So far this has worked well – I achieved my goal of completing lesson 1 of both Management Accounting and Management of Change by Saturday afternoon, giving me all Sunday off (although I acknowledge this is not really an appropriate sample size!). I’ll provide an update on how this is going later in the semester.
Revisiting my approach to note-taking
Another topic I have written previously about is the different styles of note-taking, and this is also something I have reviewed for my third semester. Although my notes were useful for last year’s modules, in some cases they were either not comprehensive enough, or too detailed (eg. I did not use most of my Economics notes, and then needed to refer to the textbook quite frequently during revision for the Marketing & Operations Management modules). I have also had a number of offline discussions with students in my and other cohorts on what works for them, and its clear that the best style of note-taking is specific to each individual. On this basis, I have decided to take the following approach this semester:
- Management Accounting – Produce a mind-map that includes the key topics, but not lots of detail about the content. I intend to use these notes to help me develop the structure of my final assignment, but then refer to the textbook as required if I need to review specific topics when developing the content.
- Management of Change – Write sequential notes that highlight any interesting points that I might want to bring into my assignment, and then create two separate tables for examples/case studies, and theories. When writing the final assignment I will review the notes prior to developing the structure of my final assignment, and then refer to the tables to bring in specific examples/theories into the content.
Changing the balance of studying vs. learning
Over the holiday season I was reviewing my original objectives for undertaking an MBA, and realised that although I was building a wealth of knowledge, insight and perspectives, I wasn’t necessarily achieving all my objectives to their full potential. During the first year, I mainly concentrated on reading all the suggested content (textbooks and lectures), attempting all the practice questions, interacting on the my.wbs forums, and completing the assignments / revising for the exams. Overall I am very pleased with my progress, but I also realised that the focus had been on learning the content of the course, with less attention paid to developing my own opinions and viewpoints in some of these areas,
As such, moving into 2013 I want to change how I am studying the MBA overall, and specifically the modules I have chosen. Instead of my aim being to understand the content delivered, I want to take a slightly wider approach: exposing myself more to the topics outside the teachings from WBS, taking time to formulate my own views in the areas I am studying, and at the end of each lesson asking the question, “Have I learned enough to engage in discussions on these topics in my career, and offer my own qualified opinion or perspective?”. I doubt I’ll be able to do this for every individual lesson, but hope to take this extra step for those lessons that are immediately relevant to my career, or those which are of particular interest. Obviously this will require more time, but hopefully the previously mentioned changes to time management and note-taking will help with this.
That’s it for this blog post – good luck to all new and current students starting a new set of modules; if you’ve not already seen it, here’s a post from 6 months ago that might be useful as you plan this semester, Ten tips for the Warwick DL MBA.