Guest Blog: Time Management Guru

Sonny: Here’s a post from Jim Protsenko, a senior manager from Yahoo and ’12 EWMBA student with whom I share two things (at least!) in common. We were both in Axe cohort and we both commute long-distance for classes. A year or so ago, I posted my experiences on commuting from Seattle. Jim kindly volunteered to do the same and in this post he shares his perspective on commuting from LA every weekend. We have an increasing number of folks from cities outside the Bay area that apply to the Haas EWMBA program each year. Hope these posts helps answer some of your questions on how current students balance work, school and travel. Jim is also one of students profiled on the EWMBA website. You can read more sound-bites from him here.

“Are you serious?” is probably the most common reaction I hear from people when they discover I commute from Los Angeles to Berkeley on a weekly basis for classes. The pessimistic point of view on it is “it is a burden.” The optimistic, however, is a realization of how much one can get done while commuting:

If driving (think five hours):

– Reflecting, thinking through the important issues in your personal, professional and student lives, the things you normally neglect during your hectic day-to-day activities – 1 hour
– Catching up with friends and loved ones on the phone – 1.5 hours (3 calls 30 minutes each)
– Listening to your favorite radio station from around the country or world (make sure to get an iPhone and download iHeart Radio app) – 1.5 hours
– Listening to a ‘book on tape’ – 1 hour

If flying (think four hours, assuming arriving to an airport an hour before the flight):

– Studying (reading lecture notes, books, writing a paper)
– Working (catching up on emails, working on presentations, building models)
– Reading your favorite book, magazine or newspaper
– Unwinding, relaxing, sleeping

Either option will offer an opportunity to get some things done, so you’ll feel less guilty spending an extra hour or two with your family, friends or just relaxing on your own.

Budget-wise, I opt in for driving when my schedule becomes less predictable. Typically that happens during the Fall of the 2nd and 3rd years, when internship or full-time job recruiting heats up and one has to attend numerous on-campus events. I look at this option as a $150 expense, ignoring ‘asset depreciation’ and lodging (I stay with in-laws when in the Bay Area). Otherwise I try to fly. With advanced airfare and rental car bookings, I would typically be looking at ~ $300 per trip. While it costs more, physically it’s less taxing. It’s good to mix these a bit.

Although the time and money commitments associated with travel may seem considerable at times, I try have the right perspective, remembering that many of my fellow-students travel from places even more remote than L.A., such as San Diego, Seattle and Phoenix.

Eventually this becomes a routine and you get used to it. Soon you’ll start hearing from others: “I don’t know how you find time to get all this done.” At that point you’ll know you’ve just become a time management guru.

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