Work-life Balance 101

Barbara Moral

Only two weeks to go! As I am sitting to write this post I am only 10 days away from my very first INSEAD break, between P1 and P2. But before I dive deep into my classroom notes and exercise lists, I decided to stop and reflect on the last eight weeks of my life...

It has been a intense ride.

Eight weeks ago, I had just arrived in Singapore. This was my very first time in Asia, so I wanted to see it all! I already had my plane tickets to go to Bali with my partner, who is here with me, and I could not wait for the first MBA trip with my INSEAD friends, who I had not even met yet, but I knew would be great.

Then came Welcome Week and Derek Deasy gave a powerful welcome lecture asking us: What do you want out of your MBA year? I had asked myself that same question over and over before boarding the plane to Singapore. Being a super strong J (MBTI profile), I even had a list of objectives, with very specific ways to measure - for those familiar with the terminology, yes, I had OKRs ;-)

"Travelling" was not in my list. Still, I wanted to travel every other weekend.

"Networking" was not in my list. Still, I went to all networking events in that week and even practiced my personal presentation to sound more appealing when meeting my amazing INSEAD fellows. With the start of P1, sticking to my short list became even harder.

  • I definitely want to learn everything that is being taught in class
  • Teachers are amazing, I want to chat with them
  • My colleagues are even more amazing, super diverse, super fun, there are so many people I want to hang out with
  • Singapore is a fantastic travel hub, I want to go to Krabi, Bali, Vietnam, Malaysia
  • My partner is here with me, I want to make sure we have some couple time
  • I want to join the Public Speaking Club and INDEAVOR
  • I want to be in the leadership team of Women in Business
  • I want to follow the advice of my career coach and start building a list of companies I find especially interesting

I want to, I want to, I want to... There is just so much I want to do! And only 10 months at INSEAD. However, I feel quite confident when I look at everything I have done in only eight weeks.

I have an amazing study group, who helps me to be on track with all the classes and assignments.  

I have travelled and hung out with a great bunch of people.

I managed to have some couple time (combined with travel :)).

We even found time to teach some basic steps of Latin dances for our fellow INSEADers!

I am also running for Women in Business leadership and I am actually doing pretty well in my personal development goals, taking chances and going out of my comfort zone more often than not.

To summarise, my key takeaway from this first period at INSEAD is:

The best lesson I taught myself during P1 at INSEAD was how to find my balance and how not to freak out with everything that is happening around me. How I am doing it:

  1. Calendar - I keep all assignments, group meetings, fun activities noted in my calendar to help me make better use of my time
  2. To-do-lists - I write down all my to-do's with due dates in Asana, a self-organisation app. You do not have to have an app, but I believe that "downloading" the information from your brain to a list reduces the pressure.
  3. Yoga and meditation - I am doing it at least twice per week, I want to do it more often, but I am still working towards that.

And, above all, CLEAR GOALS. Sure I did not stick to my short list of goals 100% of the time, but whenever I had to decide to spend an extra hour studying for a quiz or not, to go to a party or not, I would always remember my list and think: "is that going to help me achieve my goals?". This reduced a lot of the stress in making decisions and, specially, the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO - so famous among INSEAD students). Ultimately, by making decisions more smoothly, I believe I found more time and energy to do all the things I wanted to do!

So if you reading this text from your home, while thinking of what your MBA year is going to look like, my suggestion for you is: make sure you KNOW what your MBA year has to look like for you to be happy. Set your goals. And when you get to INSEAD, take a deep breath and one step at a time :)