And you don’t even have a cat.
What we mean is, if you’re planning on applying to business school this year, you will become exceptionally skilled at procrastination.
At the tail end of the admissions season, we sometimes invite applicants to reflect on their experiences. There’s often a sense of regret, especially from those who shove in a whole slew of applications at the last minute, that they end up feeling discouraged, that they had not presented their best work. Those same people, at the beginning of the season, had every intention of doing a good job on the work lying ahead.
Good intentions often do not translate to great applications.
This happens every year, and it happens across a wide range of personality types. Some people are so anxiety-ridden about the process that the are bucking at the bit to get started NOW and they want to make everything PERFECT (which in itself can cause so much stress but at least this personality type can often leverage this anxious energy into productivity). Several years back, we wrote a very lame post on this that we titled “When do you prefer to freak out?” asking what type you are.
Procrastination makes anyone feel guilty. There can be so much shame involved in not doing the things that you meant to do, that you wanted to do, that you kinda sorta TRIED to do… but then couldn’t actually sit down and do it.
There are always reasons.
“I’m so tired.”
“I’m really busy. Because Overwatch.”
“I’m going to be on the road for 15 days this month. There’s no way I can do any work on my apps while I’m traveling on this project.”
“I have plenty of time before deadlines.”
No actually. You don’t have time. Time is this elusive slippery seductive chimera that will shimmer out of your hands.
This pretty much captures everything in the cycle that we observe so many times:
Then, the weekend hits, and you go into it on like Thursday with all these plans to get started… And then it’s Friday night and you go out. And then it’s Saturday morning and there’s no way you’re doing anything after last night. And then it’s Saturday night and you’ll just have a few friends over and oh shit forgot about the game on Sunday.
Or, you really do plan on working on stuff, and dang it, that cat litter box.
Or you haven’t washed your Camero in WEEKS!!
Or oh frick, you told your mom you would do that thing for her.
And so you’re being productive just not on the stuff that matters.
Because of this illusion of time.
We always end up writing lots and lots of these warning posts at this time of year, because we see this happen so often. We don’t know how else to say it, but we’re going to keep saying it, and trying to offer some tools.
As they say, admitting the problem is the first step.
When you’re facing up against the person you are today, with this urge to transform yourself into some other new shiny happy lighthearted successful version of this person tomorrow, there will be resistance. It’s going to be hard.
Here’s what a very wise BSer shared with us during Round 2 essay reviews in December:
I really appreciate the level of detail in the feedback! This review was really helpful and I’ve tried my best to incorporate the feedback in the second draft. It was a huge relief to know I’m on the right track. I studied the school specific guide for a long time while trying to overcome the inertia to write a first draft.
Maybe there’s some practical advice buried in that comment?
If you know that you’re going to procrastinate in this process, try making a list:
“These are the things I’m allowed to procrastinate on.”
Writing essays is HARD. It’s way harder than the GMAT for many people.
Corralling your best intentions into a plan to prevent yourself from harm might be one way to go.
Sometimes people procrastinate by spending lots of time on those applicant forums, and at least you’re steeped in the “I’m applying to business school!” soup when you do that. Others are trying towards the same goal as you have, so maybe some motivation will kick in. Just recognize that there is a lot of misinformation on those forums — including (or perhaps especially?) from the many admissions consultants who frequent them. We used to wander through those sites, way back in the day, so we know what other consultants say. MBA applicant forums can be a true waste of time, and they can also pollute your thinking and plant seeds of wrong strategy if you’re not very careful. As with all things in this process, be a sponge yet have a filter.
In case it’s not clear, we don’t see “visiting applicant forums” as a productive use of your time — but it’s probably one of the tricks your lazybrain is going to play on you to get you from sitting down to write essays.
So you are hereby warned.
Maybe you can put a bunch of reminders in your calendar. Little ticklers for the future: “Have I written my first essay yet? If not, why not?”
If an intended milestone races past with no forward progress, question yourself on it. Why haven’t you started? What’s holding you back?
(Note: Our MBA Countdown that is now underway, that includes a starter project plan for exactly this purpose!)
The internet abounds with posts about procrastination. (We don’t suggest you spend time reading them. Because um…)
Everyone does it. It’s not your fault that it happens to you.
But you gotta find a way to fight it if you’re going to have the very best applications possible when Round 1 rolls around in September.
Shameless self-promotion: We’ve designed the Complete Essay Package precisely because of the tendency to procrastinate! And, to help with the daunting task of “where do I start?” It breaks the elephant of applying to your first school down into bite-sized chunks. Or just dip your toe into the water with the Comprehensive Profile Review — you’ll gain more understanding of how we work with you, and heck, you don’t even have to put forth any effort on that! Hit us up if you have questions on how any of our consulting services work!