There’s no shortage of reasons why people applying to top business schools feel some anxiety. Tight deadlines, cryptic essay questions, and tough competition are more than enough to distract — or even overwhelm — the most competent individual. So, what can you do to overcome, or hopefully avoid, feeling the walls are closing in when preparing your applications? Based on thousands of client engagements and our own experience as b-school applicants, here are 9 timely tips from The MBA Exchange:
1. Comfortable attire
It’s all about comfort. So, put on some well-worn sweats, yoga pants, old jeans, college t-shirt, bunny slippers — whatever you’d wear at home on a Sunday afternoon, alone, binge viewing Homeland.
2. Productive location
Sitting on the couch, feet up, laptop on your lap. Perfect if you’re surfing the web for holiday gifts, but when working on MBA applications? Not so much. This is business school, right? So treat it like business. Sitting on an office chair, at a desk, with good overhead lighting, away from the windows, will help you be more productive for a longer time.
3. Calming meditation
Devoting a few minutes to clear your mind is a great way to begin. We’ve found that the fastest, easiest method is "breath awareness." With a little practice, you’ll master this technique for chilling out before you stress out.
4. Soothing sounds
Whether it’s some soft Mozart or New Age, the hum of a portable fan, or a cool "white noise" app, the constant sound will help you focus on planning and writing.
5. Refreshing beverage
A soothing, favorite liquid next to you can really help. The best bet? A big pitcher of pure, cool water. Save the beer and champagne for admission day! And if caffeinated coffee, tea or soda make you nervous, that’s not the way to go. As for popular energy drinks, some health professionals have doubts about those products.
6. Modest munchies
Consuming a big meal right before you start to work on your applications will only make you groggy. And trying to think and write when hungry will produce only a growling stomach. So, keep it light. Nothing that requires a utensil or would mess up your keyboard. If you have a favorite healthy snack like, say, unsalted trail mix, fill up the bowl and enjoy.
7. Stretch breaks
Your eyes, neck, back, arms and hands need some relief every hour or so. Don’t ignore them. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so take care of your body and it will take care of you.
8. Restful sleep
A good night’s sleep before you start working on your applications is ideal. But that isn’t always possible. So, if you find yourself nodding off while drafting an essay or tweaking your resume, take the hint. After a 20-minute power nap, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to create. And don’t burn the midnight oil. Like Rome, great MBA applications are not built in a day.
9. Accurate expectations
Self-doubt is a major distraction for b-school candidates. A great way to minimize anxiety and maximize productivity is to get an accurate picture of your strengths and vulnerabilities. We’re glad to accommodate with a free (and stress free) evaluation of your MBA candidacy.