Feeling overwhelmed? Feeling totally stressed? Here are a few things that help me deal.
1) Clean your room.
I’ve found that when my room is messy, I feel like I can’t even keep one single space in my life clean and that’s overwhelming. But having a clean room makes me feel considerably more productive. Not to mention, I feel awesome being able to move on with the rest of my day like “Yeah, I did something today.” Tidy up, put things away and out of sight. Do some laundry - it’s a good thing to get going while multitasking.
2) Gussy Up
Go take a shower. I know you’ve been freaking out for the past few days over those things you have to do, and as such, you kind of look and smell like a trash can. That’s alright - even beautiful celebrities and world leaders look like trash cans from time to time. So do yourself a favor and take a shower. Spend a little extra time really cleaning yourself. When you’re done, just focus on the hot water for a little. Continue to ignore everything else. After you get out, trim your beard. Braid your hair. Put on some badass eyeliner. WHATEVER. But whatever you do, make yourself look hella fine. I always feel like a man in charge when I’m looking my best, even if I never leave my bedroom all day.
3) Have a grip on relative time
What I mean is this: society functions on a 9-5 schedule. The people who partake in this every day get up at like 6 or 7 am. Now, I’ve found that when I’m up early I feel extra productive, especially when I can get a bunch of stuff done before noon, plus it’s sunny and bright. But I also work nights, so I’m often waking up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. What you need to do is reset your clock. If you wake up at 2 in the afternoon, that is your 7 am. If dinner rolls around and you’ve only gotten two things done and everyone else is getting cozy and tucked in for the night, remember that you’ve only been awake for 5 hours. It’s only noon. When you start to think of time relatively, it helps to remind you that you are doing what you have to, you’re just on a different schedule than those around you. There is nothing wrong with that.
4) Make small lists
You have over 9,000 things to today, right? That’s cool, bb, you got this. Make yourself lists, small lists, to keep yourself focused on the task at hand, but more importantly, graphically prove to yourself that you’re being productive. There’s nothing more dangerous to productivity than thinking that you aren’t. Make a list of 4 things to do. Any 4 things. It really helps if you add small or simple things to each one of your lists; the feeling of looking at a checked off task is inspiring.
5) Multitask and plan breaks
So on today’s first list you need to do two loads of laundry, clean your room, shop for groceries, and research that thing for that paper about the stuff. Awesome. Let’s do it! Make a plan of attack: put in one load of laundry. 45 minutes until that’s done, so for those 45 minutes you can clean your room. And even if you don’t finish in those 45 minutes, it still looks better now than it did. Okay, laundry is done. Let’s cross clean my room off the list and move laundry. An hour on the dryer, another 45 minutes on the second wash, so let’s say you have an hour. Do some research, just for an hour. Dive into google, do your thing. After you put the second load of clothes through, maybe you should go shopping. It’s basically a mindless task, so why not use some of the research you just did and think about possible essay theses? Whatever your plan is, you’re doing it and you’re kicking its ass.
This is the most difficult thing to do, and it’s not something you can just snap into. Focus is one of those skills you have to train. When you have a gazillion things to do, it’s easy to think about all of the stuff that you aren’t doing in that moment, and that’s often enough to paralyze you. Focusing is about truly coming to realize that the only way to get things done is to do them, and to take pride in working on something, whatever it is, for however long you do it. Yes, you have 3 essays to write and an exam in two days. You have a lot of work to do. So sit down with one essay. Think only about that essay. Yes, there are two others to do and an exam to study for, but starting them now will not help you finish the first essay. Worrying about your grade post-exam will not help you formulate a thesis. Focus on the task at hand so you can keep checking things off your list.
I hope these tips help. I learned these things far too late in my academic career, when I needed them most.