This can be an overwhelming and stressful time of year for students but there are practical ways to manage it, writes PhD scholar Nicola Glennon of the Department of Adult and Community Education
Here are ten practical tips beneficial to managing feeling overwhelmed and stressed with workloads that can also be carried on into life after college:
Short-term versus long-term goals
Student pressures outside of college include work, social life, family commitments among others. Remember you started college for a reason. Remind yourself of your long-term goals. If you have too much on, consider which of your short-term commitments meet that long-term goal and prioritise accordingly. Boss wants you to work this weekend, but you have an important assignment due? Perhaps restructure your weekly budget so you can afford to say no and put your head down to those assignments. Check if your long-term goal will be impacted by the decision made in the short-term - keep your eye on the ball.
Use your cheer team
The people we surround ourselves with play a massive role in our well-being. Surround yourself with positive people who are your biggest supporters. They’ll get you through the stressful times and help you stay focused. Let them know your plan and ask them to support you in implementing it. Do the same for them and be each other's cheer squad. Set a reward for yourselves when you’ve got through the more stressful pressure points.
Lists are a 'go to’ for achieving tasks. Using the SMART approach to your list helps manage tasks. Lists that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound help us work through our workload effectively. List your upcoming commitments, prioritise based on time limits and the size of the task, developing a working structure that is more ‘bite-sized’ than an overwhelming amount of ‘things to do’. Complete something small and mark it finished. Completing tasks makes other tasks feel more achievable. Focus on one task at a time until they’re all completed in a manageable way. Schedule time in for yourself - mini rewards for little tasks, bigger rewards for bigger tasks.
Drown out noise
Don’t be afraid to turn off notifications - it doesn’t make you rude, it makes you focused. Distractions will not help you get anything done and will slow down your process. Every notification breaks your train of thought and will pull your brain in a different direction than where it needs to be. Weigh it up - does sticking with this piece of work serve you better right now than being notified about your friend's latest ‘haul’. Leave all the catching up to a time when you’re on a mini reward break and need to relax your brain with non-exhaustive thinking.
If you are working on a substantial project, break it down into smaller sections. Start off with one section, focus only on that, and forget the rest. Set yourself three to five questions and a time limit for the section. Explore only these topics. Do not move onto the next section until you have completed this, then rinse and repeat with all the other sections. Before you know it, you'll have completed all of the required work without getting overwhelmed by the bigger picture.
Some things are outside of our control and life happens. Move deadlines forward to one that works for you, so that if an unexpected event happens, you are not simultaneously working towards a deadline and can achieve the original submission date. If circumstances are impacting on your ability to partake in completing required work, discuss this with your course coordinator - believe it or not, they want you to succeed too. You may also be entitled to submit your work late depending on the extenuating circumstances policy of your institution.
When we are nervous, uncertain or unmotivated to do something, we have a tendency to avoid it as much as possible. This procrastination can sometimes be down to a fear of failure. Remind yourself that this is normal and overcoming these challenges helps us feel more confident in ourselves in the long term.
This piece originally appeared on RTÉ Brainstorm