Have you ever been paralyzed by the weight of all the things you need to do, or a specific task you need to accomplish by a certain date? I often find myself in this position.
I leave things too late, and then I get so stressed out about a deadline approaching, it makes it even more difficult to get started.
I start to associate the task at hand with that horrible feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Then, my desire to do it is diminished even more.
The main area I’ve had this happen to me lately is university assessments. I had a period of time last week where I had three assessments due back to back, and I hadn’t managed my time effectively, so I had a mini-freakout since I couldn’t seem to get my brain in gear to get the content out onto paper. However, I have found a few tips and tricks that help me out quite a lot in this area. So, here we go!
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1. Change your scenery
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time getting into “focus mode” when my bed is right there, and I have a fridge full of food to eat in bouts of nerve-induced snacking. One way I have stepped my productivity into gear when I’m desperate, is actually going to a strange location on campus (which for me is floor 6 of the main city campus of my university I don’t have classes at) and plugging in. Somehow this puts me into a brain-space that’s more conducive to studying.
2. Close the laptop, and use pen and paper to brainstorm
This was something I never thought of until the my first semester of my second year of university, which started back in February. I was having a hugely hard time on an assessment, couldn’t figure out where I was going or what I was trying to say, and then I just closed my laptop and got out a pen and paper and just wrote what came to my head to fill a page about the task. Then, I typed out everything I wrote by hand into a word document. Some of what you write will not make a lot of sense and it’ll probably be much shorter than you thought it would be (since handwriting takes up much more space than type), but you’ll also probably be surprised. A lot of what you just jotted down is usable, after a few edits! Getting started this way has helped me get going, and start the momentum of working on my assessment to avoid the “blank screen of doom.”
3. Create a simple checklist
When you have fifty billion things to do (or so it seems) you can feel like it’s impossible to get everything done by the deadline. You may not know where to begin, and the enormity of the amount of work you have a head of you – that you’d really rather not have to do – just makes you want to lay down and have a nap. So, make the tasks smaller and focus on them one at a time. I made a checklist to try to calm myself down last week, that broke each of my three assessments into bite sized chunks. I broke up the time I had left into sections, in which I’d complete different parts of each assessment. I was still really stressed, but suddenly it didn’t seem quite so abstract and impossible.
4. Take a walk, grab a coffee, or have a shower
If you honestly feel like your head is about to explode, go on a walk. Get a coffee. Breathe in the fresh air outside. Listen to a few songs. When I was stressed out about my assessments last week, I called my mom for a bit of comfort (no shame in that guys!) and then had a quick shower. I packed all my stuff, and took a 30 minute walk to the city campus. You may think “I can’t waste time, the deadline is looming and my assignment is due tomorrow morning” but this is not the best way to talk to yourself when you’re stressed out. When you’re that stressed, you won’t be able to be productive, and sitting at a computer doing nothing is a waste of time. So, allow yourself that 30 minute walk, and you’ll probably be much better equipped to actually power it through afterwards.
Do you have any tips for completing hugely stress-inducing tasks and assignments? Don’t forget to get access to the worksheet library below, and interact with our community at Jolvie: A Mental Health Community on Facebook! 🙂