It’s coming up close to midterms at my university. On top of that, I also have several projects looming in the distance all due at the end of the semester, and I have a senior thesis project to have about completed by next spring. So yeah, I’m stressed.
With the many assignments and responsibilities to think about, seemingly all at once, it can feel hard to actually pinpoint what to do, what to focus on, and how to get everything done. If you have any smidgen of type-A personality in your psyche, then you can relate to that gut need to make sure everything you do is your best effort, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Which, when you plate is overflowing, can amount to plenty of extra pressure on yourself.
Before stepping into anything, realize that you are just one person, a human who isn’t made to do everything perfectly, immediately, all at once. You cannot set unrealistic expectations for yourself and collapse in disappointment knowing you cannot meet those goals. In fact, it just adds to extra work and stress. Yeah, life would probably be a whole lot easier if we were robots, or just had robot assistants, who flawlessly do everything in a short time frame. But I guess I wouldn’t have much to talk about then.
If you don’t have some form of a planner, whether that’s a physical agenda or online calendar, get one so it’s handy. I personally need to write things down with good ol’ pen and paper to have tasks click in my head, but I know plenty of others who live by the beeping notifications from Google to stay together. You do you. The main point is to lay out your day or week and see where your time is spent. With classes, work, and other activities blocking off your days, you at least have a visual for when would be best to sneak in homework or projects.
But again, we’re not robots. Health and wellness in all areas come first. You still need time for current assignments, for spending time with loved ones, for resting and self-care. Trust me, when the school year is in full swing, that’s when I can crash. Hard. A mind thinking a million miles a minute tends to overlook those basic necessities of health until we hit a brick wall head-on. Then you’re definitely not getting anything done, at least not done well.
If your current schedule is evoking some of these emotions and experiences, maybe reevaluate your priorities. Are certain activities causing you to spread yourself too thin to take care of your health and education? Chances are, people are going to understand if you need to step back on a few activities, a few meetings or events, to put yourself back together. We’re all students and humans. We’ve all been there. Saying “No” is okay.
Okay, so those bigger projects outside of the day-to-day obligations. How do you find the motivation to try tackling something that isn’t due for months but is important enough that it’s looming in the distance and stressing you out? Especially if you have multiple projects to think about at once. I know I have at least eight right now. Probably more. Yeah, I don’t know how I’m still standing either.
When in doubt, baby steps. Take each individual project and write down little checkpoints or milestones that would mark your progress and help toward the end-goal. Reasonable goals are ones that you could probably complete in a week or so. Rather than looking at this huge menace impossible to even begin, take chunks off that you can consistently and easily work on in a down moment, of course paying attention to any required deadlines.
Nobody would ask you to just jump to the top of a mountain in one foul swoop, but they probably aren’t obvious in expecting a gradual climb to the peak. That’s where our own self-discipline and motivation come in. Procrastinating everything to the last minute will certainly not help motivate you. Personally, thinking of the relief I’ll feel if I get started on projects and early and have them done before their final deadlines can often be enough to get the ball rolling, but sometimes I still need an extra push. A flash of inspiration, often from other people, can be necessary.
Especially if any of the projects are group projects. Every sigh with frustration here about group projects. I’m usually the one who is reminding others to keep trudging forward, to keep the project in the forefront so they don’t forget to do their individual tasks. It can be scary to feel like you’re taking a leader role or potentially being that annoying person bugging the others to get work done, but let’s face it: If others aren’t motivated and your own performance depends on them, someone has to speak up. You’ll be glad you did.
So, quick summary: Take care of your health before everything, prioritize what is required over the extra time-crunchers, and take small, regular steps that are manageable and eventually amount to something great. Not an easy process to learn, and I’m here learning it too, even as a college senior, but trust me, we’ll make it.
Do you have any tips for managing multiple assignments and projects at once that I overlooked? Help us all out and let us know down below.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie