When I was in university, I was enrolled in an engineering program, and this meant two things:
- That I had all my classes with the same group of students, and
- That we always had a sh*t ton of work to do!
Every once and awhile though, that regular sh*t ton of work to do would turn into an unmanageable, completely impossible sh*t ton of work to do! We would sometimes have so much assigned to us at the same time that it actually seemed physically impossible to get it all done (which it was).
Thankfully though, there was always that one calm and collected classmate who would tell the professors that we had too much work to do, and the professors would then switch some deadlines around.
This experience taught me one very important thing about being overwhelmed: if it seems too unrealistic, it probably is.
So what does this mean for you?
If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and look at everything you have to do from an outside perspective. Is it too much for one person to do? Would someone else struggle if they were in your situation? Or is it just more than you should be handling right now? (Remember to go easy on yourself. If you’re feeling tired and rundown, you need to listen to your body and lessen your workload).
If after you’ve done this you realize that it is too much work for you, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to help the situation:
- Are there any non-urgent tasks that I can push to do later?
- Are there any tasks that I can postpone the deadline on or ask to get the deadline postponed on?
- Are there any tasks I can easily delegate to someone else?
Just these few things alone can lighten your workload immensely.
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For your remaining tasks (the ones that are urgent, the ones that you can’t postpone, and the ones that you can’t delegate), you can take the following steps to organize them in a way that will make them easier to handle:
Group together all of the easier tasks that will realistically only take you about 5 – 10 minutes to complete. Then, schedule them into specific time slots when you’ll get them done (preferably earlier in the day so you can get them out of the way).
After you’ve finished the easier tasks, get the most urgent tasks done. Even if they’re the ones you really don’t want to do – just get them done and out of the way (you’ll feel so much better once you do).
Schedule time for your remaining tasks according to how much focus they require. For tasks that require more focus, schedule them during a time that you can be alone and more attentive. For tasks that don’t need as much focus, schedule them during the gaps in your day.
Get it in your mind to focus on one thing at a time and to not hesitate. Often, when we have too much to do, we think about everything at once, which just makes us lose focus and become overwhelmed. We also tend to hesitate and overthink about what task we should begin first. This often leads to not doing anything at all! You just need to start doing one thing really well without overthinking it too much (this is why it’s important to schedule your tasks and stick to that schedule!).
Some more things to keep in mind
- The world will go on if you don’t get everything done. The outcome is definitely not going to be as bad as you think it will be.
- There are always people who will be willing to help you if you have too much on your plate – you just need to reach out and tell them what’s going on. If you are sincere and vulnerable, people will understand and be happy to help (as long as it’s not a regular occurrence and you end up taking advantage of them).
- If you always have way too much to do, it’s time to be firm with yourself and reevaluate your workload to see if you have too many responsibilities. It might be helpful for you to cut something out of your life for a while if it’s taking too much of your time and damaging your mental health.
- Take a minute to move your body and exercise! This will help you recharge your body and mind. Seriously, it works wonders – don’t underestimate it!
- Schedule in small breaks. Your mind can’t run on hyperdrive all day. Even a quick 10-minute break will help reset it.
Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to be a normal state of mind for you. There are always things you can do to help relieve some stress and lessen your workload. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to start enjoying your life (no matter how busy you are!).