Overworked Students: 10 Steps to Keep It from Happening to You
Overworked students are as common on high school and college campuses as overworked workers are in the workforce. There are just too many obligations for hours in the day. Get used to it, they say!
But what if we were to tell you you didn’t have to “get used to it”? What if we were to tell you there was a way to manage the stressors and obligations of daily life without folding under the pressure? What if we were to tell you there were 10 ways to do it?
Well, that’s what we’re telling you. Let’s begin!
Meditation can seem a little intimidating because there are so many ways to do it. Is this right or wrong? You can find yourself asking this question quite often, and it can keep you from getting started.
Take a step back. Find five minutes of your day to start. Five minutes that allow you to go to a quiet place, sit, close your eyes, and start breathing. That doesn’t sound too intimidating, does it?
The goal is to empty your mind of all the little things that cause worry, stress, and concern. That can be hard if you think you’ve got to be 100 percent successful at it. However, that’s not the case at all.
You’re going to think about stuff during meditation. Instead of giving into the thoughts, though, let them be your trigger to come back to the exercise. Anytime something takes hold, just acknowledge it and go back to your breathing. If it helps you, count your breaths. “Inhale, one; exhale, two; inhale, three; exhale, four.” And so on.
2. Plan Ahead
Planning can save you a number of headaches when it comes to being overworked. However, there are three types of planning that each deserve your attention. Long-term planning, mid-term planning, and short-term planning.
- Long-term planning: from the student perspective, this means knowing when your main projects or testing dates are, what you’ll need to accomplish to deliver the goods, and how to stay on pace by accomplishing each target objective in between.
- Mid-term planning: this would qualify as planning out the week ahead as well as revisiting what you accomplished in the previous week to make any necessary adjustments for the five days ahead.
- Short-term planning: the day ahead. Which specific action steps do you need to accomplish?
Don’t pick and choose. Do all three, and you’ll stay on track.
3. Take Breaks
There comes a point in your working that you’ll start to become counterproductive. You’ve simply pushed yourself too far to put forth the same quality of effort. That’s your mind and body telling you it’s time for a break. If you decide to “push through,” things will only get worse.
So, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Step away from the computer or textbook or composition or special project and do something for yourself. Even if it’s just a nice, brisk walk, it’ll work wonders for your overall well-being and the quality of your work.
Keeping the mind sharp is directly connected to how you treat your body. If you eat the wrong things and never get exercise, you’re going to start feeling poorly physically and mentally. It will lead to creative dormancy, stupid mistakes, and, if left unchecked, debilitating illness.
Make time for your body. Get out of the chair and into some workout clothes. Start where you are by doing exercises you enjoy at intensity levels that won’t make you hate what you’re doing. You can always increase intensity from there. The key is to get started.
It’s extremely difficult to do well in school or life if you don’t enjoy your work. It’s easy not to enjoy your work when that’s all you’re ever doing, though. You have to make some time to step away from it all and have a great time with friends.
Be careful with how you choose to socialize. There isn’t much that can be gained from getting together to stare at your phones the whole time. Even worse, activities that are bad for your health (i.e., excessive drinking, illegal drugs, etc.) can derail your entire life. Don’t equate good socialization with bad behavior. Be responsible.
6. Reflect on Your Progress
You have to stop what you’re doing every now and then and look back at what you’ve done. This teaches you your strengths and weaknesses. It also informs you on whether you’re moving in the right direction.
We recommend starting each day by looking at the previous. How far did you get on an ongoing project? Was there anything you missed that you need to come back to? What can you do to work smarter and not harder in the next 24 hours?
You can also start this at the end of your day by making a quick to-do list for the next day or by leaving something unfinished intentionally. This allows you to start fast without having to relive the entire day.
7. Make Adjustments
When you make a to-do list for the week, it should (and will) change significantly as the days move on. It’s vital to come back to your mid-term planning throughout the week to see what has changed. What additions or subtractions or completions do you need to make?
8. Take Pride in Quality
Play the long game. Don’t worry so much about the smaller assignments. It’s okay to miss a question or two on your homework as long as you’re doing everything you can to complete it. The main objective is to learn the material and be able to display that when it counts.
In other words, the quality of your learning is what matters. Take pride in that, regardless of whether you have an A or a B at the end of the semester. If you have a project on the horizon, do your very best to ensure it’s something you would gladly put your name on.
9. Seek Help When Necessary
Trying to do everything on your own is a recipe for disaster. You’ll eventually hit a brick wall where you need the expertise of someone else. Don’t be shy about it. Reach out to those who have more knowledge or ability than you.
They could be a fellow student, a professor, someone you know who’s actually working in the field you’re majoring in. Be creative with your social network. Dig deep on your contacts. Make sure you approach them respectful of their time, and they’ll be happy to help!
10. Keep the Endgame in Mind
You’re going to have rough days. You’re going to feel like quitting from time to time. Just don’t let quitting be your endgame. Take time for yourself if you need to. But always come back to the table.
Being Overworked Takes the Fun Out of Everything
Letting yourself become overworked will, indeed, sap the joy out of life. That’s true whether you’re going to school or in the workforce. It also can start to affect your relationships with friends and family. Unless you learn how to deal with the stress of it all, it will consume you, and that will become your life. Don’t let it. Employ the strategies mentioned here, and watch your situation start to improve.
[Featured Image by Needpix.com]