How To Stay On Task When You Have A Ton Of Work To Do

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling suuuuper overwhelmed at work. It was the day after I saw Beyonce with my friends, so I was coming down off of that high and was feeling unsettled because the coffeeshop that I planned to work out of didn’t offer wifi. WHO DOESN’T OFFER WIFI?

I was trying to manage my feelings of depression (slight) and frustration all while a ton of work emails were coming in with request after request. I got very overwhelmed and found myself numbing out with Youtube, Facebook, texting, etc. I just needed a break from all of the work coming in that I had to distract myself.

I know you can relate.

But here’s the thing. When we troll our favorite blogs, websites, whatever instead of focusing on our work, that work begins to fester and become even scarier. It’s harder to get it done. Deadlines loom. We feel bad about ourselves for not being able to handle our workload. Our thoughts spiral. AND we make more mistakes in this anxious state, which requires even more time from us to correct.

Ug it’s the worst.

I have a LOT of experience with feeling overwhelmed by work, especially when we have multiple requests coming in, so I got your back.

The next time you’re juggling multiple projects/demands/requests and find yourself turning to Youtube, social media, your phone, etc. to get some relief, do these things instead:

1. Brain dump. Write down EVERYTHING you have to do/are responsible for you. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. You’ll feel calmer just seeing everything in front of you instead of swirling around in your head, making you crazy.

2. Take deep breaths. When you receive multiple emails and want to run and hide, take several deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Also, every hour, take a 3-min meditation break. Close your eyes, breath deeply, and just focus on your breath. Breath work like this lowers your cortisol level and helps your brain get still, allowing you to come back to your work in a calm state.

3. Read your emails completely. I know you get a lot of emails. We all do. But when you open an email, you have to read it completely. It’s easy to skim because you think you know what someone is saying or because you’re too freaked out by all of the work in front of you. But when you skim, you miss important details. Then you’ll have to ask about them later, which makes you look unorganized if someone tells you that they put the details in the email. And many times, when you read an email fully, you realize that what is being asked of you isn’t as time-intensive as you thought. This happens to me all the time at work. I’ll dread a project, then read the email detailing what really needs to be done, and the project is way less difficult than I made up in my head.

4. Get clarification on priorities. If you’re not sure what project to do first at work, ask your boss what your priorities should be. If you’re a student, ask your professor how much of your grade a project is worth. Ask yourself which of your classes are most important to your major or your future goals, and therefore need to rock. Are you taking a class where you can get away with doing a little less work?

5. Pick a focus object. When you look away from your laptop or paper for a quick break, don’t go somewhere online. Choose a focus object, something that you love to look at that brings you comfort or joy. Place it on your desk, and look at it whenever you pause in your work. This could be flowers, a painting, or an inspiring picture on Instagram. I love the Instagrams of these awesome people.

6. Pick a task and be unapologetic. When you know which projects need to get done first, focus on that and be unapologetic about it. Your brain will try to throw you off your game by making you think about everything else you have to do. But if you get caught up in those thoughts, nothing will get done. When you choose a project to work on and those thoughts come up, just say, “Thanks for sharing. I’m working on this right now. I’ll get to you soon.” Put your attention right back on your chosen task.

I’m working on staying on task myself, so expect more productivity tips as I become more productive.

9 ways to become a Happy College Girl RIGHT NOW

If you’re looking for quick ways to feel happy and peaceful in college, I’ve got you covered. The following list contains some of my favorite (and most effective) ways to improve my mood and increase productivity INSTANTLY. You’re a busy college woman. You want to feel good and be productive NOW. Here’s how to get there, sister:

  1. Do something nice for someone else. One of the most powerful ways to get out of the headlock of our thoughts/fears is to serve others. Take a stack of Post-it’s to school with you. Write an anonymous, positive message on a Post-it and stick it in a public place, like on the mirror of a bathroom. Plaster your campus facilities with loving messages; they can turn around someone’s whole day…and it makes you feel powerful. Check out Operation Beautiful here.
  2. Clean your room. Set a timer for five minutes. Pick up clothes off of the floor. Straighten piles of paper. Wash/dispose of dishes. What can you do in five minutes to make your room look and feel calmer?
  3. Write a note to someone you love. Kick it old school here. Get out a note card (or just a piece of paper) and a pen. Tell your best friend who goes to another school, your mom, your grandparents, a former teacher/professor that you just want to say hi and why they are special to you. This is a perfect time to crank out that thank-you note that your mom keeps telling you to send to your great aunt.
  4. Paint your nails. Pick a color that makes you feel excited, sexy, feminine, etc. Like this:Red Nails
  5. Put food on your face. DIY facemasks are fun, cheap, and effective. Try this one: Take 1-2 tbsp. of full/low-fat Greek yogurt. Smear yogurt on your face. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. While waiting, take selfies, listen to music, and just chill. Gently wipe off yogurt with warm washcloth. Admire your bright, smooth skin in the mirror. Check out these facemasks too!Photo on 2014-03-23 at 22.31 #2
  6. Get your freak on. Dance parties are medicine. Close your bedroom door and crank up them jams. These songs are really working for me right now: If you can’t get privacy to have your own dance party, have one with a friend, or take brisk walk around campus with your jams pumping in your ears. Dance to these songs right now.
  7. Make a DAILY To Do list. We have so much sh*t to do every day. Instead of slogging your way through one master To Do list that never actually ends, just make a list of the tasks that must and can get in one day. Your To Do list won’t seem as daunting, which makes getting up and starting your day a little easier.
  8. Get informed. Do you know what’s going on in the world? Your state? Your school? As students, it’s easy for our worlds to become very insular-the stress of college life make it hard for us to think about anything else but class, projects, work, etc. But when we engage in conversations about international, national, and state affairs, we feel more connected to a world outside of our college lives. Check out The Skimm! Two cool women write this FREE daily newsletter in a way we can actually understand. You’ll feel smarter, more cultured, and more connected to others.
  9. Meditate. Meditation instantly slows your thoughts, helping you to feel more relaxed and clear-minded. All you need to do is sit in a chair or on your bed (or on the toilet in the bathroom if you can’t get privacy elsewhere) and breathe through your nose and out your mouth. If your mind wanders, that’s okay! Just try to bring your thoughts back to your breath. Meditate for two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or disconnected from yourself, do something on this list. I promise you’ll feel a jolt of happiness and peace.

 Which ones are you most excited to try? Tell meeeee!

How to feel more peaceful about your workload so you don’t turn to food

If your workload is anything like mine was in college, you feel like you’re just trying to survive the day. You try to keep your head above water, amidst a sea of papers, projects, exams, research, reports, etc. It’s stressful to say the very least, right?

Me in college!
Me in college!

One way I dealt with the stress of my workload was by eating-overeating and binge eating (distinct behaviors, but that’s a topic for another post). I used food to procrastinate, or to distract myself from the amount of work I had to do. I also used food to numb out, or to “check out” mentally when my stress level got so high that I couldn’t bare to look at my books.

But all of that eating made things worse. The stress of my workload was STILL present because I hadn’t actually gotten any work done. And, the massive amount of food that I ate increased my stress, causing me to not only continue avoiding work, but also feel guilty and ashamed of myself for eating so much…usually causing me to hit the food again. Such a vicious cycle for my poor, hardworking body and mind to endure!

Can you relate to this? Have you used food to help you deal with the stress of your workload?

It’s okay, beautiful. You are SO not alone.

You have a LOT to do, and you want to do it with ease so that you don’t use food in ways that cause your body and mind pain. I can help.

Here are 3 action steps you can take to get your work done peacefully so that overeating or binge eating becomes less and less of a coping mechanism for you:

  1. Make a DAILY To Do list: Looking at a long list of vague tasks always sent me straight to the snack machine in my off-campus housing. Make your papers/projects more manageable by breaking them down into small steps. Then, choose which of those steps you can realistically accomplish in one day. Ex. A large, vague task of “Research criticism on Lady Chatterley’s Lover” can be made into MUCH more peaceful and manageable tasks of “Find three articles of criticism on Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Read and take notes on articles.” Can you tell that I was an English major?
  2. Use a food mantra: A food mantra is a simple, comforting phrase that you say before, during, and after you eat…or whenever obsessive thoughts around food attack your mind. This is my favorite food mantra of all time: “I love my food, my food loves me.” Say this to yourself or out loud around meal times, or whenever you need some relief around food thoughts. Don’t get tripped up about this. Just let the words work on you.
  3. Focus on what you accomplished every day: When we have a lot of work to do, we tend to think only about everything we haven’t done. Cue the feelings of inadequacy and guilt…and the accompanying overeating/binge eating. Before you go to bed, tell your roommate or a friend (or yourself) everything that you DID do today. Dig deep and acknowledge at least three actions that you took to get your work done. Maybe all you did today was read this email and make a To Do list for tomorrow. Dang, girl, you accomplished two things today! Now think of one more!

Ahh, don’t you feel more peaceful already? Don’t you feel like you can take on your workload and whatever anyone else throws at you…without needing to steal your roommate’s Reese’s Puffs cereal? You got this, college girl.

How do you usually cope with stress from your workload? I wanna know!