Manage the Stress of B-School Applications

177247563Round-one MBA application deadlines are here, proving once again that even the most confident and organized candidates tend to get stressed out in the weeks leading up to sending off their applications. For those of you applying during round two or contemplating a future run at B-school, here are some tips to ensure that you don’t let application stress get the better of you.

Map out a schedule and stay on top of it.

As I wrote here at USA Today, along with some other tips on mapping out your MBA timeline, most applicants should plan on spending three to four months on the application process.

But a timeline only helps if you use it. Each week, revisit your plan and make adjustments as necessary. Use it to figure out the tasks you need to tackle in the upcoming week and schedule in the time you’ll need to complete them. There will always be roadblocks, but mapping out all of the work you need to do and the order in which you’ll do it is crucial to feeling in control.

Delegate and let go.

Yes, you’re trying to cram impressive accomplishments onto your B-school resume, but the fact remains that you’ll need to devote serious time to your application—so put off those Mandarin lessons you’ve been meaning to get around to. When you’re getting into crunch time, take a look at your schedule and figure out what you can delegate and what you can put off until your applications are done.

Listen to your doctor.

Everyone knows that getting adequate sleep and exercise are important—and we know these can be the first things to go when we get busy. But sleep and exercise are two of the best tools you have for fighting stress. As a bonus, they can help the quality of your B-school application. You may get unstuck on that problematic essay while you’re out for a run or playing tennis. Looking at your application materials with fresh eyes after a good night’s sleep is a surefire way to improve their quality.

Eat for stress management.

Your diet can also help you better navigate stress. From serotonin-inducing oatmeal to immunity-boosting oranges, this article on WebMD gives an overview of some of the items you can put in your grocery basket to help you de-stress. While working late on your MBA application might seem like the perfect excuse to let pizza boxes stack up in the refrigerator, try to stay away from overly processed or fatty foods that will leave you sluggish and sleepy.

Wait it out.

Most applicants feel a great sense of relief when they send off their materials, only to realize that the wait to learn their fate is agonizing. Once the application is out of your hands, try to be confident that you put together the best application you could, and turn your attention elsewhere. This would be a great time to take up those Mandarin lessons.

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