1. List everything you need to do
To be reminded of how much you have to do may feel like the last thing you want. But while you don’t have a proper idea of what’s due, it’ll carry on feeling overwhelming. Listing it is the first step in sorting it out.
2. Break down big tasks (like essays) into smaller chunks
Tasks always feel less overwhelming if you tackle them one step at a time. Rather than “write essay – start Friday”, try thinking “write plan for essay for Friday”. Instead of thinking ‘do reading for seminar’ work out how much you need to read, how long you’ve got and then plan to read a certain number of pages per study session.
3. Prioritise your work list – today, tomorrow, in a week
Be realistic about what needs doing now. For example, try to limit the number of items on the ‘today’ list to 3 or 4. Remember deadlines are the priority, extra background reading can probably wait till later.
4. Do something from the ‘today’ column immediately, and tick it off the list. Getting one task done will help you feel calmer
If you have a deadline coming up, get that piece of work out of the way first, even (perhaps especially) if it’s the one thing you’ve been avoiding. If you’re stuck because you don’t understand it, go back to basics and build up from there – or ask for help.
5. Now put the other tasks in priority order and make a plan to tackle them
Fit what you have to do into the time you have to do it in. We could always do a better job with more time, but you’re not expected to achieve perfection. Don’t forget that deadlines and word counts are there to set the scope of your work – you’re not expected to do more.