If you follow me on my Instagram, you might know that my life at the moment is: sleep, eat, go to the gym, go to lectures, spend time with friends, repeat. Thankfully, studying is not part of my everyday routine at the moment!However, we’ve just been set our first big assignment of this year. As we have no exams this year, this is means each of our assignments is worth a lot more than I’m used to. Each piece of coursework has much more weight to it and that is a terrifying thought.Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by a massive project, I tend to follow a structure that helps me stay on top of things and feel the minimal amount of stress. I like to break this down into steps:
- Brain dump everything that needs to be done. Getting everything out of your brain and onto paper is the best way to feel less overwhelmed. This is also a great way to determine which things are urgent and essential. I like to get a blank sheet of paper and write everything in the form of a mind map – this way allows me to form connections between different aspects of the project!
- Create a structured to-do list. Once I have my massive, messy brain dump I decide on concrete tasks that can be done towards the larger goal. I start by simply highlighting these on my mindmap and then transferring them into the format of a list.
- Break down each task into managable chunks. Having a long list of tasks can be extremely overwhelming in itself. This is why this step is so important! I take a look at each of the tasks in turn and decide which smaller tasks are required to be able to tick off the larger one. Personally, I like to make each of these sub-tasks ones that I can complete in 1-2 hours maximum. This makes it very easy to schedule in the asks and actually get them done.
- Prioritise the most important tasks. Now that we have a list of small, manageable tasks, where should we start? I tend to ask myself, which tasks are most crucial to achieving my goal and would have the biggest impact if I completed them? These tasks are the ‘must do items’ and everything else becomes a secondary, ‘would be nice’ task.
- Delegate wherever possible. When working on a big, important project it’s vital to delegate wherever possible so that as much of your focus can be on the project. Of course, this is easier said than done and there are many tasks that cannot be delegated.
- Plan backwards and schedule it in. If your doesn’t project has a deadline, this is the point where you should set one yourself. Think about what you need to have done 1 day before the deadline? What do you need to have completed 1 week before the deadline? Then, compare this with your task list and slot things into your calendar so that you can achieve these goals.
- Focus on ONE thing at a time. This step is true for any project, regardless of it’s improtance or size. Many of us believe that we are capable of multitasking and that this makes us more ‘productive’. However, this couldn’t be more untrue! Attempting to take on too much and tackle them simultaneously simply leads to reduced quality and quantity of work done in the same amount of time.
Have a great week!