Too Much to Do in One Week? How to Prioritize and Find Calm

The essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. ~ Stephen Covey

It’s the beginning of the week. You flip open the weekly planner to see what is coming up in your class, work, and personal schedule. Suddenly, you realize you have three tests, an essay, board meetings, a work deadline, and a date night all scheduled in the next 5 to 7 days. Panic sets in, maybe even anger at your teachers for all deciding to give you a test the same week (though they did not, of course, plan it like this on purpose!); you wonder if doing everything is even possible! “Should I cancel the date? Ask for an extension at work? How do I study for all these tests while writing the essay, working a 40-hour week, and complete other schoolwork?!”

If this sounds familiar, rest assured: there is a way to do all these things without over-stressing, totally losing your mind or failing assignments!

The beauty of taking courses online is that we have the opportunity to fit school around our busy schedules; and, while school needs to take a front seat in our lives, it should not push out other priorities, especially if you have a job and family to care for. Since everyone has a unique situation, here are a few general tips that will hopefully help you navigate through those stressful weeks:

  1. Know your limits and plan accordingly. If you know, for example, that you cannot take tests late at night, don’t! Instead, make plans to take your test on a day when other obligations are not present or when work/life is not as busy.
  2. Get creative. Study or try to complete an assignment during breaks at work or between activities.  Work with your schedule to maximize your time—plan ahead as best you can so you are not cramming everything in last minute.
  3. Prioritize! Again, while school is both pressing and important, your personal well-being is more important. It is a proven fact that too much stress can affect sleep, performance, and physical, mental and emotional health. This is why maintaining a healthy personal life is so important—even when your assignments seem overwhelming, try to give yourself at least 30 minutes each day for “me time.” Grab a coffee, meet a friend for lunch, go on a date, watch an hour of TV, exercise, or take a nice walk. Doing so will help you to focus, relax, and find the calm that will get you through this week!
  4. Don’t slack. Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed, we tend to push things off that are not pressing this minute. Doing so, however, can lead to more panic and stress toward the end of the week, or poorer quality of work due to the time crunch. Finding a balance between being too busy, cramming too much in your day and putting everything off for tomorrow is key.

And remember, if things just seem too overwhelming, it never hurts to ask for some help. While every employer varies, most professors you will encounter at the World Campus are willing to do what they can to help you in times of need—you just have to ask!