I am now at the midway mark of my second year and into the long awaited winter break. Unlike last year when I spent the break traveling South America, this year I will be devoting time and energy to my start-up.
In retrospect, I would have to say that second year (EC) is radically distinct from first year (RC). As regular readers of this space are aware, I have been tracking my time usage since arriving at HBS. Below, for your consideration, is a comparison of my time utilization between RC and EC.
Anything stand out as blatantly obvious?
Let’s have a look at Study and Class time. Compared with last year when I spent 38% of my time studying, prepping and attending class, this year I devoted about a third of that time to these activities – 12%. Why the disparity? A portion of the reduction can be attributed to increased efficiency on my part, and the remainder is a result of taking project-based courses as opposed to the heavy load of case-based studies in first year.
So, what did I do with the time?
It would be nice to say that I spent it with family and friends. But this year’s 15% was about the same as last year. I did manage to get 2% more sleep this year, but the variation is so small as to make no difference.
There are two new endeavors I undertook this year which have notably altered my time usage.
The first is golf. I took up the game this summer and have already invested 162 hours (4% of my time) in improving my score. Please note – I do not use the word “invested” lightly or facetiously. I want to emphasize that I consider this as an investment – a conduit for business networking! My game is still “under development”, but I have managed to reduce my score by 32% over the past six months.
I have also spent a considerable amount of time (7%) on my start-up company. It feels as if I have spent a disproportionately greater amount of time as it consumes my every waking thought. Over the past six months, my team has done holistic market research, intensive customer interviews and business model development, as well as successfully verifying feasibility. I’m going to incorporate the company next month and commence raising capital. Undoubtedly I will invest still more time on this next semester.
I could easily have had more free time than last year (increased from 14% to 26%), even with the added duties associated with golf and my startup. But, as often happens with free time, it was consumed by mundane matters – as daily chores, conferences, lunch and dinner, and just for relaxing. It seems the amount of time required to do these everyday things expands as the time becomes available.
Overall, contrary to the general perception that HBS students are extremely busy throughout the two years, I would say that the second year is far more flexible and humane than the first. Largely due to the fact that so much depends on students’ choices. Given this fact of life at HBS, I strongly recommend future students seriously consider their plans for second year before they arrive at HBS.