Do you ever get that feeling where your brain feels too full? You have a bazillion tasks and priorities and not enough time in the day. Your mind is so full of stuff you’ve gotta do you worry that if you sneeze you might forget them all.
If only you could freeze time so you can get everything done.
Learn to beat overwhelm and you’ll be more productive but also feel calmer and more in control of your studying.
In this blog post, you'll discover:
I've created a workbook for you to put this process into action. Grab it by signing up to my free resource library where you’ll also get access to TONS of other printables and worksheets to help you become a happier, more confident and more successful student.
5 steps to beat overwhelm
1. Brain download
When you’re feeling overwhelmed you don’t have clear direction. There are so many different paths and rabbit holes you could run down that you’re stuck: frozen. You’re not able to make progress with anything due to sheer panic.
Let me introduce you to your new best friend, Miss Brain Download.
When you experience this, the first think you want to do (after some slow deep breaths) is to grab some paper and pens and do a brain download.
Here's one I made a few days ago (with the help of some wine!).
Get all your thoughts down on paper. Every task, event and worry – write them all down.
I draw a mindmap but you could use bullet points. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. It’s all about doing what will help YOU the most.
Part of the problem when you’re a busy student is you often have conflicting responsibilities and priorities.
So I find it useful to separate my brain download into the areas of my life. Right now, for me, these are: studying, work, business and personal. You might have different ones.
Your brain download may look a little scary once you’re finished – but I promise you it will really help to free up your mind.
2. Pick and ditch (the 5Ds)
So now you’ve got a BIG list of everything you need to do. To make this list possible to achieve we need to segment it further.
Now the 4Ds are a common way to prioritise your to do list: do, delay, delegate and ditch. I’ve added another – do less well. Let me explain.
I want you to go through your brain download and categorise all these tasks. You may think all of these tasks must be completed right now, by you and to the best of your ability. But that’s pretty much never the case. Have a go at completing these sections in your work book.
Ok, these are your priorities. If a bill’s gotta be paid – it’s a DO IT task. If you’ve got an essay due in a few days that you haven’t started – that’s another DO IT. There’s no point worrying about buying Christmas presents for a month’s time when you’ve got an essay to write.
*Sorry procrastination, not this time!*
In your workbook, list the few tasks you MUST get done.
So now it’s time to identify the tasks that still need doing, but they’re not so urgent. Starting revision early is important, but an essay due this week is more pressing than making a revision guide for next month.
Work out what you could delay and then make sure you schedule a time to tackle it. This is the important half step you cannot forget.
So grab your workbook, identify those DELAY IT tasks and then immediately schedule into your diary or phone calendar when you’re going to tackle and complete that task. Don’t say you’ll do it later (you won’t).
I’ll be watching…(too creepy?)
Hands up if you’re a control freak?
*Hi! My name’s Chloe and I like being in control*
Now, unfortunately we can’t delegate our study tasks. But, we can delegate lots of our other tasks. This is where you might need to call in some help and favours from your family and friends.
Can your partner or housemate take over some cooking and housework for a few days to ease the pressure?
Could a friend run a few errands for you?
Could you hire a cleaner just to help you create a few more hours in your week?
Could someone in your family help you with your children and take them to music club or pick them up from school for a few days?
Have a think about what you could delegate and to whom – even if it’s just temporary. This is a great way to create some space to breathe.
Ok, so what tasks can you just ditch completely?
One for me is whenever I have a clear out I box up some clothes and decide I’m going to sell them on eBay. This never happens because when do I have a full day to photograph and list my clothes and package and trudge along to the Post Office?!
So, that task recently got ditched from my to do list and I took them to the charity shop which only took 10 minutes instead of 10 million hours. (Maybe I should ditch the exaggeration too?!)
Have a look at your task list and see if there’s any tasks that seemed great when you thought about them but were kinda unrealistic.
Try and answer the question, what would happen if I didn’t do this task?
For me, if I didn’t eBay my clothes I wouldn’t make any money from them. But then I figured my time is worth more than the stress and a bit of money so I ditched it.
Answer this question for some of your tasks and write down in your workbook which ones you could ditch.
DO IT LESS WELL
Now I’m not an advocate for completing or submitting assignments where you know you could have done better. But, when the shit hits the fan, something’s gotta give.
And I’d rather it be your perfectionist attitude than your sanity.
Maybe you started the year determined to always write great notes. But when you’re overwhelmed and running out of time, there’s going to be some areas you could compromise on. Maybe you could look at your next assignment question to see which textbook sections are the most important. You could take great notes for those sections but take very brief notes for the others (or not at all).
Once you’re out of the woods a little you can go back to your great notes.
Another example: don’t beat yourself up that you haven’t got time to make 5 batches of cakes for your work charity bake sale. Could you buy some yummy store bought goodies and donate some money instead?
Try to be realistic. If we all had unlimited hours in the day we could afford the time, energy and effort necessary to shine in every area of our lives every day.
But sadly time turners are not real.
Be realistic about your task list and priorities and you’ll soon beat overwhelm.
3. Ask for help
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t know how to do a task? Or maybe you’re stuck on a tricky concept and don’t feel like you can move on.
Never be afraid to reach out for help.
Asking for help involves being vulnerable, but it’s so worth it.
Ask your tutor if they can help you understand that tough topic so you can move on. Ask your tutor if your essay outline makes sense so you can stop stressing and gain the confidence to continue.
This works outside of studying too. As I said above, maybe there’s tasks you can delegate if you ask for help from your support network?
Have a think and write down in your workbook where you could ask for help, so you can beat overwhelm and get more productive.
4. Reduce overwhelm elsewhere
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your studies, like you have too many tasks and not enough time, try and see where else in your life you could beat overwhelm.
Could you spend 10 minutes on a Sunday planning out your work outfits for the weak so you can grab and go in the morning?
Could you plan and meal prep in one go so dinnertime runs a lot smoother and is a lot faster?
Have a think about areas and ways you could speed up some of your other tasks but also save overwhelm. Then write them down in your work book.
5. Make your study time super productive (so you can beat overwhelm quicker)
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, have you ever wished you could just freeze time for a day so you can get shit done? Now I can’t promise you that (again, no time turners!)
But what I can promise you is, if you do things to make your study time super productive, it will feel like you’ve created more time because you’ll complete more study tasks in less time.
3 ways to make your study time super productive
Don’t forget to download your workbook for this blog post – so you can beat overwhelm, save your sanity and increase your studying productivity and efficiency.