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Student Perspectives: Tips for Staying Organized in Business School 


About Michelle: Michelle Li (’23) is a first year at UCLA Anderson. One of the dual MD/MBA candidates, she is pursuing a career in urologic surgery and is hoping to use her MBA for a future role in hospital administration. Outside of Anderson, you can find Michelle exploring new coffee shops, baking way too many cookies, or reading under her weighted comforter.

Student Perspectives: Tips for Staying Organized in Business School 

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

While I can’t tell you much about pivoting (unless it involves Ross and a sofa) or recruiting, as a veteran student, I do consider myself an expert in how to succeed academically. Trust me – I have almost two decades of experience in the field to back it up. 

In all seriousness, a key to succeeding in business school (and in life, I’d argue) is to stay organized. Bombarded with social events, team meetings, and assignment deadlines amongst a million other commitments, I rely heavily on a few tricks that have helped me keep track of everything (or, at least most of them).

  • Use your calendars – If you are one to keep mental notes of every commitment, business school may be a good time to switch things up. Keeping a calendar will help you stay accountable and redirect you from distractions throughout the day. At Anderson, most events and meetings are coordinated through Outlook, which syncs up perfectly with iCal for Apple users. By having all your activities in one place, you’d save yourself the headache of double-booking and having to send an awkward e-mail asking to reschedule. Before the end of each day, I look over my schedule for the next day to ensure that I know exactly where to be and that I am prepared for those events.
  • Plan out your weeks – I always have a recurring Sunday to-do: “plan for the week”. While an old-fashioned paper and pen will always be near and dear to my heart, I’ve slowly joined the digital squad. For those that love customizability and seamless syncing on all your devices, I highly recommend Notion. I use the premade templates (there’s one called “Weekly Agenda”) and add all my to-dos for each day of the week on Sundays. If it’s not written down, it will not get done.
  • Take advantage of the first week of each quarter – I started this habit in medical school, but something that I’ve found to be incredibly useful is going over all my syllabi and compiling all the assignment deadlines in one location. I try to do this the day before the quarter officially starts, but if you take your breaks seriously, the first week of classes is a great time to do this. There will be a lot of assignments (weekly readings, group problem sets, individual write-ups, etc.), and I find it much easier to have them all in one place than to pull up the syllabus or course website every day. Here’s an example of how I organized all my assignments for the semester using one of the templates on Notion:
  • Set goals AND revisit them – If you applied to business school already, you’re no stranger to the notorious “Why [business school name]?”, and I’m sure you put some incredible things you want to do at Anderson – organizations you want to join, competitions you hope to enter, courses you plan to take, etc. Don’t lose sight of them! Business school goes by FAST. Write them down before you start. Add goals that aren’t business school specific. But most importantly, make sure you revisit them throughout your journey. Have you completed them? Are they still relevant? Do you have additional goals since you’ve applied? It’s very easy to get carried away by recruiting or coursework (or Netflix), so you want to make sure you maximize your time at business school.

P.S. Notion did not sponsor this blog post.

Student Blogger: Michelle Li ‘23

Undergrad: Harvard University ‘17

Pre-MBA: Medical student at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Leadership@Anderson: 1st Year Director, Anderson Ambassador Corps; Director of Admissions, Healthcare Business Association; Riordan Fellows Mentor

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The UCLA Anderson MBA Insider’s Blog offers an inside perspective on topics relevant to prospective MBA students and others interested in learning about UCLA Anderson’s world-class MBA program, faculty and curriculum. The blog is managed by members of the full-time MBA program’s Admissions Committee, with posts by our Admissions staff, students, alumni and guests.

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