To-do Lists: The Answer to Staying Sane

I tend to spread myself too thin with responsibilities. It is right around this time in the term that I find myself completely overwhelmed with my workload.

I get frustrated that on Thursdays I have class from 10 a.m.-11:20 a.m. and work from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., which leaves me no time to eat lunch. I get frustrated because I spend my weekends trying to catch up on last week’s homework while also trying to get ahead on next week’s homework.

When all of my responsibilities become too much to handle, I end up in tears on the phone with my mom as I wallow in how busy I am. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: I am just so sick of not even having time to eat lunch on Thursday because I run straight from class to work.

Mom: I’m sorry honey, why don’t you get up earlier and pack a lunch before you go.

Me: I’m so tired I can’t wake up any earlier! I’m trying to balance friends, family, 20 credits of classes, a job and an internship. And I also need to start looking for internships for this summer. And I need to pick my classes for next term because I register soon. Uuugh.

Mom: I understand your frustration. Maybe you need to cut back on something so that you have a little more time for yourself. Maybe cut down your work hours? Or drop one of your classes?

Me: Mom I can’t just stop doing one of my activities! All of the things I’m doing are things that I NEED to be doing. I don’t have a choice.

The truth is, at times I feel like I’m stretched too thin but I’m not willing to give up any of my commitments. They are all of equal priority.

This is where it dawns on me that the things I spend my time doing are truly very important to me and I am not willing to give any of that up. So, that means I need to find a solution to ease my stress. My solution: to-do lists.

photo-10I keep a detailed daily planner where I write everything I need to do that day, from my Spanish homework to what time I’m supposed to call Kelsey on Tuesday to talk about our spring break plans.

My daily planner/to-do list dictates my life. It keeps me sane. I live by the “work first, play later” mantra. I will not let myself to anything fun until I have everything on my list crossed off.

99U has a great post with suggestions about how to organize your to-do list.

To-do lists help to free up some brain space to focus on what really needs to get done. My list helps me visually prioritize my commitments and activities for the day. I don’t have to keep focusing on not forgetting to pay my rent next Saturday because I already wrote it down on next Saturday’s to-do list in my planner.

To-do lists also make me feel happier about my commitments and priorities. I feel at ease when I can visually see that I have a lot to manage but that I can, in fact get it all done. I feel productive. I feel like I can accomplish anything.

Just by implementing the simple step of a to-do list, my stressors turns into blessings as I realize how lucky I am to even have the opportunity to be stressed.

I get to go to the University of Oregon, I get to be a PR student in the SOJC and I get to spend my time here furthering my education and experiences through all of my activities.

Photo by: Me

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