When I was asked to share my daily experience of working and studying during this journey, it took me a moment to realize that my daily routine is not a typical one for most people. Now that I’m trying to put my thoughts into words, though, I admit it’s been a tough period. When I decided to apply for the Executive MBA program, I knew it was not going to be an easy task, but I found my motivation in my desire to learn. I still do.

MIP Politecnico di Milano has enabled me to continue to my full-time commitment to working as an executive director for a dairy company in Albania, while at the same time following the program online through the MIP digital platform. I always strive to achieve a good balance between the professional burden and your private life. It is very important for me, besides my demanding career and the studying, to take care of my family, enjoy everyday family life, as well as supporting and comforting them when facing difficult moments. I should acknowledge that, without their great support and care, I couldn’t possibly succeed in this phase of my life.

Study while others are sleeping, work while others are loafing, prepare while others are playing and dream while others are wishing”. I find this quotation from the American writer William Arthur Ward quite relevant during this period of my life. It is very important to have a weekly and daily schedule and stick to it. I wake up almost every day at 5.30 a.m. and listen as much as I can to clips of online lessons, WOBI clips and other material shared by the professors. I spend one hour on the MIP platform and half an hour with online newspapers to get the main headlines and events from the previous day. After a quick breakfast and coffee time with my family, I rush to get ready for work. Usually I drive to my office, but when the weather is good and there is a sunny day, I prefer to walk, while listening to music.

A typical working day for me starts at 8.30 am and ends at 6:00 pm. However, during this period, at lunchtime, I very often share the table with my laptop or mobile phone, trying to read something from the platform, participate on the school’s Yammer forum, or to keep in touch with the shared groups on WhatsApp, Skype, and many other communication channels and shared working tools provided by Microsoft Office 365. Thanks to the MIP online platform, I don’t have to be at home to study, so even 15 minutes of free time, wherever I am, can be an opportunity to watch a short video or read an article assigned by the tutor. In the afternoon, if there is no live session scheduled within the school program, I use whatever free time I have with my loved ones and friends, as well having dinner with my family. Around ten o’clock it’s time for me to access the platform again and spend an hour or two, depending on the subject, to read the online books shared by the professors. Half an hour to check the online newspapers and the day’s main headlines and around midnight, it’s time to go to sleep and get some rest for the following day. My time on weekends is spent between family & friends, working on individual & group assignments and doing physical activities, such as running and exercising near the lake or maybe taking a short sightseeing trip if I have no deadlines to meet.

One of the main advantages of studying online is the fact that classes are mostly based on your personal schedule. Having said that, to me it’s more important to organize a daily study schedule, rather than to study at a particular time during the day. The study method applied by the platform is similar to the so-called “pomodoro technique[1]”, which tries to divide the course subject matter into small clips, no longer than 15-18 minutes each, aiming to retrain the brain to work more efficiently and to increase focus and productivity. I usually prefer to watch the clips early in the morning and to find some time in the evening to read the online books for that specific course. Referring to Medical Daily, some recent studies strongly support the technique of studying in the evening before bed, which is known as “sleep learning”. It means that after a busy and tiring day at work, studying before going to sleep is of benefit to the studying process, because the brain processes the information studied and the retention is much more intense.

Last but not least, I try to find some time for social networking, keeping in touch with my friends, as well communicating almost every day with the MIP alumni through different communication channels. Socializing with other students and taking part in the online community, it’s crucial to fully benefit from this academic program, taking into consideration the diversified background and the vast professional experience of each student in the class. Of course I have to “steal” some time from other activities in order to adapt and organize my new daily routine. Finding time for the gym and my other passions such as sightseeing, mountain climbing and photographing nature is, of course, a challenge – but one well worth the effort. It’s all about prioritizing and focusing on what I need most during this period, and eventually extremely rewarding!

[1] This technique, which is known as a time management method developed by entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, try to breaks down large work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes, separated by short breaks, by using originally the tomato-shaped kitchen timer.