Reigning in your 1001 tasks

With the end of add/drop comes the beginning of evaluations that were but a mere thought what seems like yesterday. The ball has started to roll more quickly and the readings we haven’t done have formed a list that is seemingly out of control. While this can easily become overwhelming, there are strategies you can do to get you back on track and decrease your stress so that your workload is not insurmountable after all.

Here are a few that I have benefited from:

1. Write Them Down

Whether it is on a piece of scrap paper or in a 50$ planner, get into the habit of listing all the things you need to do. The list helps make your tasks much less daunting since it puts the amount of things you actually have to do into perspective. It also allows you to see everything in one place so you can prioritize which brings us to the next point.

2. Prioritize

By prioritizing, you reduce your stress by reducing the choices you have. Having too many choices can make us feel helpless which makes us more likely to give up and not do anything. Start on the task that is due the earliest and work your way through the list.

3. Think About Your Future Self

Research has found that we tend to overestimate how much time we will have in the future and that we think in more abstract terms about the future. We tend to ignore day to day occurrences that will interfere with our ability to do work such as work for other classes, events and appointments. My advice: do not fall into this trap. You will be as busy in the future as you are now, if not more so. If you ever find yourself with extra time (a dream), try to finish something that is due in the longterm, your future self will thank you.

4. Be Realistic

Do not bite off more than you can chew. Not only will you not finish, you will feel extremely disappointed and it will be much harder to stay motivated. Know how much you are able to do in a given amount of time and set out to do just that. On days when you are feeling particularly unmotivated, try to do even the smallest thing, like reading the summary of a chapter you were supposed to read it its entirety orĀ  skimming over your notes.

5. Be Mindful About your Mental and Physical Health

Listen to what your mind and body are telling you. Are you feeling too anxious? Do whatever it is that makes you relax. Are you struggling to stay awake? Go to sleep, you will retain very little information if you can barely keep your eyes open. If you notice any mental or physical symptoms that persist, make use of the health resources on campus or elsewhere. Ultimately, you know your limits but make sure to take care of yourself.


In the wise words of both Shia LaBoeuf and Nike, just do it. It is much easier to finish a task once you get started and it will not seem as difficult. Sometimes I become so focused that I finish it in one sitting. This will obviously not happen most of the time but you will be surprised how much your stress is reduced and how much you end up doing.

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