Oxford MBA

Lockdown 3.0 + Assessment Week 3.0 = a brutal combination…

Another one down…

This week has felt like the longest week yet, whilst simultaneously feeling like I was rapidly running out of time. Monday seems an awful long time ago, but I distinctly remember panicking on Tuesday that I didn’t have enough time to finish my paper. It’s been a strange one…

“5th week blues” is a common Oxford phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot this week. MBA terms are longer than “normal” Oxford terms, as the rest of the University only has two more weeks left. We are only half way through ours. However, it seems to be universal that this week causes angst amongst most of the University. For us, it was in the form of our Strategy and Firms & Markets combined paper and a formative presentation for our GOTO project. The paper meant another two credits on the line with 2,500 words in which to dazzle our Professors.

Assessment Week started with our formative GOTO presentation on Monday. This wasn’t assessed, it was just a chance for informal feedback from the tutors and our peers. It didn’t seem quite as daunting as the real one no doubt will, in five weeks time. A bit of time spent practicing with the group in the morning, two and a half hours of listening to other presentations in the afternoon, then my “Musicals Monday” workout in the evening meant there wasn’t that much time on Monday to dedicate to the paper. However, I was glad the presentation was over on Monday as it meant no distractions from the paper for the rest of the week.

Should have been in the pub celebrating the end of Assessment Week. Instead I was running through the mud 😁

I have come to realise that my favourite time of the day and my favourite time to work is first thing in the morning. I also love a routine (but I already knew this) so throughout this week I have really honed my Assessment Week strategy. This will sound crazy to many but I’ve found it works well for me.

5am alarm (honestly, it’s the best time of day) and at my desk with various liquids; beetroot juice (trust me on this one), coffee and water, ready to smash out a solid two hours of work by 5:30am.

By the time 7:30am rolls around, I’ve usually worked up an appetite, so I make breakfast and have some time to read the news or a book (I’m reading a book on Loneliness at the moment which is mildly depressing in the midst of a pandemic). After breakfast, I’ll go back to the essay for a couple more hours before either getting out on a run, a ride on Bikey or doing a workout.

Fairly depressing read in the midst of a global pandemic which is forcing us to stay apart…🙈

Once I’m back from my run or ride, it’s usually about 11am, so then I’ll shower and make lunch before going back to the essay. And so it continues….essay reading and writing, break, essay reading and writing, break. The breaks often involve walks with fellow MBAs but the closer the deadline loomed, the fewer MBA walks I had and the breaks were sometimes just a quick fifteen minute trot around the block.

On Wednesday evening I have started another Zoom workout class for my classmates and fellow St Catz members. This means we’re up to three times a week. I enjoy doing them, so as long as people still keep coming, I’ll keep doing them.

My early morning routine worked pretty well, and by Wednesday night I had a fairly decent draft. I slept on it (not literally) then spent Thursday morning making amendments. Diego and I went on an early morning coffee walk in the torrential rain which was throughly enjoyable and also gave my brain a break from re-reading the same poorly worded paragraph. I must have had a brainwave out in the rain, as I came back and fixed it in no time. Sometimes you do just need to step away…

By Thursday afternoon I was so done with my essay that I submitted it; a whole 24 hours ahead of the deadline. Sometimes there comes a point where you have to say “enough is enough”. If I don’t, I end up staring at it at 4pm, in a daze, changing sentences and making them completely incomprehensible. I know when I work best and it’s not at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon.

Finishing slightly early gave me a bit more time to catch up on other admin and then eventually, relax a little. I had forgotten to factor a lie-in for Friday morning and had signed up for a call with Dean Tufano at 8am! It was meant to be another one of his “Meet the Dean” calls (although I also went to one in Michaelmas term) however Jas and I were the only ones that turned up, so the three of us just chatted for 45 minutes. It was great.

Love a good tempo session!

And so as Assessment Week draws to a close, we start Entrepreneurial Project Week next week. A week dedicated to our projects, culminating in a presentation to our tutor and classmates on Thursday. As we’re back on Zoom calls and team meetings, my 5am routine will be pushed forward an hour, and I’ll be back to running first thing, as apparently I actually have to be alive and kicking for calls at 4pm…

Catching up with my favourite Australians once the essay was handed in 😂

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