In your everyday life, you probably deal with a loaded list of responsibilities and a relatively short window in which to fulfill them all. In my experience, this workload can lead to significant stress—not counting any stress in your home life—that results in sleepless nights, physical health concerns, and even mental health issues. Here are some ways to combat this pressure in a healthy, constructive manner.
Make your to-do list
First, I find it helpful to list everything you need to do to keep track of your tasks. This may seem overwhelming, but it helps to remind you of every item that has piled up. Do not include everyday tasks that are part of your regular routine. Instead, reserve this list for individual tasks that have deadlines attached to them.
Organize by deadlines
Next, list all the due dates and prioritize your tasks accordingly. Hard deadlines are specific days by which you need to finish. Soft deadlines are more flexible, whereby you have a few days, a week, or even longer. So in addition to factoring in when your tasks should be completed, add how long each one will take you to complete and the order of importance.
Place value accordingly
Rank the tasks on your to-do list based on more than just when they are due. For example, something for your CEO should go ahead of something for your manager. If an essay counts for half your grade, it should precede the one worth 5%. Do not simply prioritize tasks by deadlines, but also by what will take you the most time to complete, and either by how much they are worth or how they will reflect on your performance. If you know you can complete one task faster because you have a strong grasp of the subject matter, it might be beneficial to get it out of the way. Checking line items off your list can give you a sense of accomplishment and improve your productivity as you work on other tasks.
Set up a calendar
For visual learners, I suggest a calendar— whether digital, a dry erase board, or on paper—to help you organize what is due and when. Mark everything down on the appropriate dates, then fill in the remaining dates with when you will work on each task. By organizing not just the deadlines themselves, but the timing you need to actually reach them, you will help yourself stay calm and on schedule.
Rather than allowing your tasks, deadlines and anxiety to negatively impact you, there are effective ways to handle the responsibilities on your plate. You can also get ahead of stress by seeking assistance from your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Student Assistance Program (SAP). Contact your E/SAP to discover how their Stress Management services can benefit you.