Tackling a Never Ending To Do List

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When you have a to do list longer than your arm, sometimes the easiest thing to do is nothing at all. Staring at a long list of daunting tasks and not knowing where to begin is a scary prospect, and the overwhelming feeling that you have far too much to do- and no where near enough hours to do it- can only create negative feelings about the actual tasks you have to complete. Sometimes it's much simpler to place that list in the back of your mind and watch yet another episode of that TV show on Netflix. But ultimately that list is only going to be more daunting when you try to readdress it. It's not going to get smaller on its own, and although it may seem an impossible feat to ever reach the end of that list, avoiding it all together is never going to help you achieve your goals.

When I was 16 I started to suffer badly with stress. I struggled to get the balance right between revising for all my different subjects whilst still maintaining far more extra curricular activities than I could possibly manage to squeeze in to my already hectic life. I'd like to say that as I got older I got better with managing my commitments, but my ability to take on far more than I can handle has possibly only magnified with age, and is certainly one of my greatest downfalls. What I have got better at however, is my ability to organise my mind and my life in order to deal with all these different deadlines at once. 

 It only takes a quick scroll through my twitter feed to realise I'm not the only person who constantly seems bombarded with deadlines or lack of sleep, and it is comforting to know that so many of you can relate to the feeling of piling too much pressure on yourself. Therefore I have decided to do a little advice post, outlining some of the ways I deal with my own stress, in the hope that it may help a few of you out too!

001. "Stress is not what happens to us, it is a response to what happens to us"...
 ...and response is something we can control. It's not your workload that's breaking you down, it's the way you've chosen to carry it. Learning to adjust that load is what makes all the difference. Worrying about workload or deadlines or exams will not make them go away, but it will stop you from appreciating the good things. Therefore, set aside time every day to complete the tasks you need to complete, but also schedule in down time, social time, relaxation time!

002. Be realistic
Whatever it is you are working towards completing; be it revision, coursework deadlines, fitness goals etc., these are usually long processes, and the start of the journey will always be the hardest. When you are a long way from reaching your ultimate aim it can be hard to stay on track and motivate yourself to keep moving in the right direction, especially when you feel you are no closer to achieving anything than when you started. Don't assume that you can wake up one day and cram all the information into your head, or go on a 10k run after years of never working out... setting yourself these unrealistic targets will only lead to negativity when you fail to complete them. Instead, set realistic goals to be completed in a comfortable and attainable time frame, giving yourself rewards if you manage to achieve them ahead of schedule. 

003. Bad days happen
And when they do, you need to pick yourself up and move forwards. We all need time off every now and again, and that is OK. No one is expecting you to wake up at 6 A.M. and sit at a desk cramming your head full of information until you go to sleep at 10 P.M. It is physically impossible to retain all that information, and your brain will just switch off and become less effective by doing so. Giving yourself breaks will actually benefit your ability to absorb facts. Sometimes it's important to listen to your own body and mind... if revision isn't working for you that day, give yourself a day off and wake up tomorrow with a positive mind set that today you will get back on track. Every day is a new one, so don't dwell on the failures from the day before. 

004. We all work in different ways
We all deal with things differently and react individually when faced with the same situation. I have spent far too many revision periods in my life worrying about how many hours a day my friends are doing, what subjects they are prioritising, how many words have they written for the coursework... and at the end of the day this does nothing but stress you out. We all have different techniques that work for us, so try not to focus on others and focus on bringing yourself closer to the goal that you want to achieve.