It’s Sunday evening. You’re looking at the week ahead and you can already feel your heart racing just a tad inside your chest. Your brain starts to freeze up ever so slightly just thinking about the 3 papers due Friday, the exam on Tuesday, and the countless hours of class time, study groups, organizations, and work that is coming your way. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried the “go with the flow” approach, and it hasn’t worked out so well. So take a deep breath in, because these 6 steps are going to help you get through that stressful week Ohio University throws at you…every week.
1. Write down everything you need to do.
Sometimes this is referred to as a “mind dump.” You take all the information bouncing around your head that you’ve got to accomplish throughout the week, and you put it down on paper. It can seem like a daunting task, but it will help you to get started with organizing the chaos. It can actually be somewhat therapeutic to take all that information and move it from your brain to a piece of paper. In fact, some people will go a step further and flip the paper over once they’ve gotten everything out of their head and write down some highlights from the previous week or reminders of what they’ve already accomplished so that they can stay calm about everything coming up.
Now comes the organization. Figure out what needs to be done first. Categorize things. Decide what counts as homework, projects, studying, work, organizations, or social obligations. Within each category, figure out what needs to be done first. Make a list. This part can get a little messy if you’re not terribly organized, but don’t worry. You will get it all tidied up in the next step!
3. Open up a calendar or planner, and get to work.
I use Google Calendar for literally everything. If you prefer a planner, that works just as well. This is where you take the messy lists you’ve created and clean them up. Put your normal schedule into your calendar, including things that you have to show up for (like classes, appointments, meetings, etc.) and get that sorted out. Before you let this stress you out too much, schedule in time for yourself. This can be meditating, working out, having a night with friends, watching Netflix, or eating ice cream- whatever it is that you need. Make sure to schedule that in so that you have that time and don’t feel guilty for using that time.
Then, only after you’ve made that time for yourself, take a look at your lists and start scheduling in time for each task you have to accomplish. A good tip is to always budget twice as much time as you think you need, especially when you’re still trying to figure it out. Throw in 2 hours on Wednesday evening to knock out that English assignment. Plan on using that hour between classes to knock out a homework assignment. Make sure you leave yourself time to get lunch, take a shower, etc. Trust me, there will be time in the week to make it all fit!
4. Stick to the schedule!
Once you’ve made your plan, stick to it. That is the only way this works. If you have to, turn off your phone and log out of social media. If you’ve only got an hour to study for the history exam coming up, you’ve got to use it. The hardest part of organizing your life and reducing stress is actually doing the work. But trust me, it feels so much better once you do it. Getting things done is so rewarding. You’ll thank yourself later!
5. Check in at the end of each day.
Take a look at your schedule, and see how well you followed it. Make changes if need be. Adjust things. Add in the extra assignment into your schedule that your professor threw in at the last moment. And then take a moment to remind yourself of what you accomplished throughout the day. There might be a lot on your plate, but now that you’ve got a plan of attack, you can sleep easier and go at it again the next day.
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6. Reward yourself when things go well.
Treat yourself! If you accomplished what you needed to during the week, go grab some ice cream with your friends. Get a cup of coffee at the local café. Pour a glass of wine. Whatever it is that you do to celebrate a job well done, make sure you work that in. Because you may not have realized it as you started to freak out on Sunday night, but you can absolutely accomplish everything you need to during the week. It feels so much better to know you’re on top of your game when Friday rolls around than to feel like you barely made it to the finish line. Reward that effort, and keep it up for the weeks to come.
How do you handle the stressful week Ohio University is constantly throwing at you?! Let us know down below!
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Rhys is a Music Therapy student at Ohio University. He sings in 3 choirs and an A Cappella group and can be found eating burritos, drinking coffee, or randomly and sometimes inappropriately bursting into song in public.