SBC Scoop: Managing Stress with a Timeline

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

Just about a year ago our client Emily was starting to freak out. Every time she looked at her applications for four MBA programs, all she could see was a pile of work to be done with nothing complete, and worse, no sense of when she would get it all done. It was just overwhelming.

When Emily had her first meeting with her consultant and set up a strategy for her applications to HBS, Stanford, Wharton and Kellogg, the answers seemed manageable. Discussion with her consultant helped her set up a plan to prepare her recommenders. Though she did not consider herself a strong writer generally, they had already brainstormed a few good ideas to start developing. In other words, no single piece of the process was all that intimidating when they spoke. However, when Emily would sit down a few days later to get to work, all she could see was big pile of incomplete applications, a long to-do list, and a hectic eighty-hour work week at her hedge fund to work around.

Emily’s consultant could tell she was about ready to panic, and when she heard Emily’s long list of concerns, knew just what to do. They needed a plan for when to do what: a timeline that she could follow over the next three months. First, they created a master list of what needed to be done and attached a rough time estimate to each. With four applications to write, they estimated Emily would need ten to fifteen hours to complete the work and essays specific to each one. They budgeted time to contacting recommenders and looking into her network of contacts for alumni to speak with. They also looked up sample GMAT class schedules and factored in study time for the test retake she had already planned.

The master list was almost as frightening as the unfinished applications, but the next step was to attach each task to a specific timeframe. They found items that Emily would start this week and others she would kick off the next week and the week after that. After talking about Emily’s writing style, they budgeted a few hours each Saturday afternoon to give her enough time to sit and think clearly, but not so much time that she would get stuck.

With a timeline in hand, Emily felt reassured. She explained her own tendency to leave things to last-minute marathon sessions, so she felt great knowing what would get done in what order. Emily’s consultant also suggested finishing her applications several weeks ahead of the fall deadlines in order to give her time to think and reflect on whether the application was exactly what she wanted to send, with enough time built in to make any changes. They both felt the timeline would squash the panic and give Emily enough structure to make sure her best foot was forward, and sure enough, she was admitted to both Stanford and Wharton.

Read more case studies and contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you attack your daunting applications.

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