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Dealing With Overload


Dealing With Overload

It happens to every college student out there – overload. Between exams, papers, reading, class preparation, friends, and family it just feels like there’s too much to do, and not enough time to do it in. I know that feeling – it happens to almost everyone every so often, but you can deal with it! And here’s how…

Do a mind dump. I took this from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. Essentially the idea is you sit down with a paper and pen (or a computer and an empty document), and write down everything that you have to do. Now the easiest thing to do if you’re not sure where to start is the absolute basics, start with a list of your classes, and then work out what you need to do for each class. If you know how long something will take to do then write that down, but otherwise don’t worry. Now think of the other stuff you might need to do, laundry? Email your parents? Write down absolutely everything for now – regardless of importance.

Sort the mind dump. Don’t worry, we’re not alphabetizing it or anything, we’re just doing some basic color coding here. Grab three color highlighters, use one color to highlight everything that is of critical importance – that can be anything from a paper that’s due tomorrow to calling your mother so she doesn’t panic and call the police to report you missing. Now use another color to highlight anything that you can leave for now, at least for the next week. So if you have enough clothing, then laundry can go on that list, if you cleaned your room recently then you can probably leave that too, if you wanted to get a new DVD, or xBox game those can definitely wait. Finally grab the third color and highlight everything else. Now I want youth get a pen, and to give everything that you highlighted in the first color that has a due date a label containing that date.

Create a new list. This is the final step, I want you to go through and write out a nice ordered list of everything you have to do, so the first color goes at the top, ordered by due date, and then the second color, and the third.

Do some of it. Depending on how much you procrastinate this may actually be the hardest step. Now you’ve got everything written down so you know what you need to do first you need to actually do it. Start with the first thing at the top of the list, and if it’s a big project give it its own list (e.g. a paper involves research, writing and various other steps).

If you have too much to do then you’re going to have to “give up” on some of it. You may have to become an anti-social hermit who is either working, sleeping, or in class, for a while – and if that’s the case then just apologize to your friends in advance (show them the list if they don’t believe you), and focus on getting everything done so you can go back to your normal (or an improved) routine.