10 Things To Do When You Have Too Much On Your Plate

We all do it. We know that we shouldn’t. We know that we’re already overwhelmed. We know we don’t have the time, but still… we over-schedule.

This semester I forced myself to juggle a play, a sorority, an internship, a grad class, Her Campus, a day chair position for recruitment, and SHA classes for a minor I have no time for. It’s been no less than constantly overwhelming, and there are days that all I want to do is skip it all and stay home to sleep. It’s tough, but worth it because all of it is so meaningful and fun.

Still I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching for ways to manage all of the stress. It’s never easy, but here are 10 tips to make it through.

1.     Get a planner.

It’s not even an option, it’s essential. Its a must have. Without it, I’d fall apart. The second that I get a date for something in front of me, I write it down and plan out how I need to prepare for it. It has absolutely kept me organized and prepared for every day of the week. There’s no trick that will help you like just plain staying organized.

2.     Stay engaged in everything you do.

It’s not easy, and it will definitely take some self-training and evaluation, but it is so important. When you have this much on your plate it can be numbing, you might start to notice yourself simply going from one thing to the next. But try, if at all possible, to stay engaged no matter where you are and it will make every experience seem to go better and easier.

3.     Say no sometimes.  

You should always be open to new experiences, and say yes as much as possible, but you should also feel as though it’s okay to say no sometimes. If you already have three things going on in one day, feel comfortable saying no to a fourth. It’s difficult to tell friends or a boss “no,” but it’s vital for your sanity, trust me.

4.     Enjoy the tiny relaxing moments of your day.

Personally, the parts of my day that keep me going are showers and my coffee break between class and my internship. Those are my moments to indulge myself. I scroll through instagram, take a breather, and just focus on not thinking at all. It’s my time, and even though it doesn’t last that long, it motivates me for the next thing that I’m about to go and do. Find those moments in your day and you will find the strength to survive.

5.     Pack healthy snacks. 

If you’re like me, and you’re running from one thing to the next, you know how easy it can be to run into a fast food restaurant for a meal in between activities. Resist this temptation by packing healthy snacks to keep you going through the day. I usually pack an oat bar or pretzels, sometimes fruit or carrots and hummus. It helps give your brain some nutrients and power, while helping me not to feel bad about my snacking habits.

6.     Prioritize sleep.

I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah yeah, sleep, but my essay/homework assignment/presentation is due tomorrow.” I’m telling you that it is absolutely worth it to sleep. When your body is exhausted you will not get any productive work done, and will get even less done by keeping yourself up to finish something. It will refresh you to sleep, so just do it. 

7.     Depend on others.

Don’t get in the habit of asking other people to do everything for you, but never shy away from phoning a friend. You really need someone to cover a shift at work, help you with your studying, or someone to work on a project with you, just ask. You never know when one of your friends might be able to really come through on a favor, as long as you return it for them when they need it.

8.     Make lists.

This has been the thing that has truly helped me in organizing myself. I have different lists for everything, long term goals, short term goals, goals for that night. Make a list of all your exams and cross them off as you go along. Make a list of the things you need to do that day and check them off as you complete them. The sense of satisfaction that you will get from physically crossing off an objective will motivate you to finish the next thing on your list.

9.     Exercise/do yoga/get moving.

When you’re too stressed out to do anything, work out. It’s a healthy way to relieve anxiety and will put things into perspective by giving you time to think about everything. It’s a super-healthy habit and is beneficial for your mind as well. Run a mile, walk to somewhere new, lift some weights, do some squats, or just stretch. Find what exercise you want to do and get your blood pumping.

10.  Keep things in perspective.

Realize that each task isn’t the end of the world. Getting a C on an exam won’t end your college career and not finishing your homework isn’t grounds for dropping out. Take a second to appreciate how far you’ve come in school and pat yourself on the back for doing the things you’re doing. Don’t forget how important things other than school and jobs are, because those things are a means to a good life, not the other way around.

Mostly, just breathe and know that all things in college are only temporary. Try not to put too much additional pressure on yourself and just have fun with the things that you are doing. You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself here!