This article originally appeared on fortefoundation.org.
A question that I often get asked by candidates is how to juggle both professional responsibilities and MBA applications, given the demands of both. Performing well at work is, of course, extremely important. Moreover, there is no doubt that MBA applications require a lot of dedication – studying for the GMAT/GRE, developing your strategy/story, and writing your essays are just a few of the steps in the process. So how can you manage to do it all successfully? Below are four tips that will help you handle your professional obligations as well as enable you to put together compelling MBA applications.
Use a calendar to schedule what needs to be done
While you may have a sense of what needs to be done at work and with your MBA applications, using a calendar to block off time for different tasks will help you immensely and ensure that you are able to systematically accomplish your goals. For example, mentally telling yourself that you will study for the GMAT/GRE on the weekends does not necessarily mean that it will translate into productive study time (and in fact, such a broad goal may actually overwhelm you).
Instead, block off specific times on the weekend when you plan to study – this will help you to be more focused and to utilize your time most effectively.
Prioritize tasks that need to be completed
When there is a lot on your plate, it’s very important to prioritize. With limited time, this means learning to say no if something does not help you to further your goals. Each day, we are faced with tasks and activities that could be postponed until a later date or perhaps outsourced to someone else who may have more capacity. Think about the top 3-4 tasks that need to be accomplished for that day and focus on those; having many tasks on your to do list will just cause stress and result in nothing being done well. Here are three ways to further help you increase your productivity.
Take breaks during the day
Often, candidates run on overdrive to get everything done, but this just results in burn out. It’s imperative to schedule time to take breaks in order to recharge your batteries; this will help you to approach your tasks refreshed and with a clear mind, which in turn, will help you to be more productive. This could be as simple as taking a quick walk, grabbing coffee, or spending time engaged in activities and extracurricular activities that you really enjoy (note that your participation in extracurricular activities is a crucial aspect of the MBA application).
Get enough sleep and rest
When there are just not enough hours in the day, the tendency is to find that time by reducing the number of hours of sleep. But, as we all know, being well rested and getting enough sleep are extremely important with respect to helping us to function optimally. While you may be able to operate on less sleep for a few days, it will eventually catch up to you, leading to tired and unproductive days. Don’t ignore your physical and mental health throughout this process.
While there is a lot that needs to be accomplished when simultaneously working and applying to business school, with some planning, prioritization, and much needed breaks and rest, you will put yourself in the best position to achieve all of your goals.
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.