By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
School started about a month ago, and now, the pace is really starting to pick up. There’s tons of homework to do, countless chores to complete, and insane amounts of reading to catch up on! I’m sure you’re a little behind on sleep, already feeling stressed out, and just thinking about all the things that need to get done. If this situation sounds all too familiar, there are a few easy steps to take that can put your mind at ease.
The first one? Stop thinking and actually do something! We often spend so much time planning out and making a mental list of tasks we need to complete, but doing this not only takes away from the precious few daylight hours, it also makes tasks seem more overwhelming!
“Most people’s to-do lists actually create fatigue, because they don’t clarify how, exactly, they are going to handle Mom’s birthday, so tasks feel bigger than they are,” says David Allen, a productivity expert and author of the best-selling book Getting Things Done. Instead of jotting down – mentally or otherwise – what activities need to be done, plan out how it’s going to be done!
When you do get to crossing off an item from the to-do list, take a bit of time to ponder if your time was spent wisely or not. Was the task completed without distractions, or did you pull out your phone occasionally to check the latest Facebook update? If yes, be careful. Oftentimes, it seems like a short minute is spent browsing social media, but without even realizing it, hours can go by. Not only did you take 2 hours to do a task that could have been finished in 30 minutes, you also wasted time that might’ve been spent on another task. Put the phone down and get everything done!
And, make sure you’re organized about it. Research from the University of California, Los Angeles (go Bruins!) found that even looking at a cluttered mess can increase levels of stress. So, spend some time tidying up! It may seem like a waste, but actually, orderly habits help out in other areas of life as well. “We know from research that little acts of neatness cascade into larger acts of organization,” says Christine Carter, a sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.
Other basic things you can do to take away stress from your life is to stay consistent, avoid multitasking (since it’s actually counterproductive!), and be sure to give yourself a small reward for a task well done. “When you start to let go, your life lightens up because you have less to think about and less to maintain,” says Geralin Thomas, a professional organizer in Cary, North Carolina. “You finally feel in control.”