Combatting Stress – Step 1- Getting Organised

Okay so stress has many aspects, but the reason my stresses sometimes feel overwhelming is because of my lack of good organisation, priortisation and the willpower to get things done in good time….this leads to stress as I think about how much I then have to do as deadlines loom closer with less time to put in and I then feel like I don’t have free time as I need to concentrate more on one task when really with more productive use of my time I could seperate work and play per say more easily and worry less because I’m proactively getting things done along the way. No last minuteness would stop all this, I’d be able to split things up into smaller, more manageable tasks so it gets done without the stress.

Sounds easy right? But wrong. I know all of this so why is it still not under control? Now there is an answer we each have to this question. Only you really know you, your downfalls when it comes to being organised. And it is thinking about myself and the way I am when it comes to organisation that leads me to answer this question.

Let us start with an example: I attend a lecture. I have ideas of what I need to do over the next week like my reading, printing off lecture notes, preperation for deadlines in the immediate aftermath of the lecture but then by the time I get home, I sit down to relax and voila, out of sight, out of mind. I forget what I need to do, it doesn’t seem so urgent anymore since well I have a week after all, so days go by and I get on with other things thinking I have time for uni work later….wrong! It hits the night before my next lecture and I’m in stressed mode trying to get everything done last minute.This is typical me. It seems absolutely atrocious to me that I’m still like this when I hate that last minute feeling when it comes but here I am.

My disorganisation causes me stress. My lack of forward planning, urgency etc means that I cause myself more worry by work demands piling up. I have a simple planner with about 3 lines for each day but this isn’t helping. The lack of space means I don’t jot everything down. I have an iPhone but organising my life on there never worked either. I realised I preferred more pen and paper methods which I know aren’t for everyone. So what do I do?

Now with my example in mind, if I jotted down all my ‘to-dos’ when they came to mind I’d have them infront of me so they couldn’t be so easily forgotten. I’d know what I need to do. If I could then break these down into manageable hour by hour tasks and fit them into my schedule around other commitments it would be great.

What I find is I sometimes have a rough idea of what I need to do in my head but without visually seeing how much time I have I make the weekend seem like so much time that I waste my friday night, my saturday and sunday then looms with all this work to do….I want to chill but actually I have the week’s build up of work to get through and oops I forgot to account for that cinema trip I planned for Sunday.In addition, without having all the things I need to get done jotted down, I keep remembering more and more I need to get done as I work through a seemingly neverending to do list.

So what is it that I want…. I want something where I can:

  • Plan my days out, add appointments according to time (I don’t like the blank 3 lines worth in my current diary) so I can see the free hours I have from a glance. Can I fit in an hour of studies on this day…well if I check my planner I can easily tell…I have 3 hours on Monday morning, an hour of work doesn’t seem so bad when I have 2 hours to then spare….
  • Write To Do lists for different domains of my life – University, Work, Blog etc. Somewhere I can jot new things down easily as they arise. Then come back to them on a daily/weekly basis to slot them into my day to day planner.
  • See my month ahead of me so I can see looming deadlines, plans etc at a quick glance. Is next month a busy one? Do I need to get more work done now so I am more free socially next month?

Now I know writing things down doesn’t help everyone, but for me, if it isn’t infront of me I forget about it (be that consciously or not!). It seems less important. But a simple planner doesn’t work for me as they don’t tend to come with hourly plans and to dos or if they do, the space to write in is tiny!). I don’t like using my phone for this as I prefer pen and paper as well…

So what do I use?

Now when I suggest this some of you will automatically think nope that isn’t for me and it might not be. But I think it may perhaps be my solution here.

Solution: Filofax: with day to day hourly planning sheets, to do lists and a monthly planner (at least)

Now is this just another diary? Well yes it is, but I like the idea of it being a ring binder so I can put things in that suit me, my life and what I want out of my diary.
I can have different tabs for what I need:

1) Day to Day planning

2) To do Lists

3) Expenses

4) Monthly/ yearly overview.

For me this seems great! One place to write down appointments etc, I can write down things which spring to mind (i..e oh yes I need to book seats for my train journey!) which I can put into my next day when I come back to the list later that day. I think the daily hourly diary will help me to realise that I can fit in half an hour/an hour easily into my day. I can set aside time to study etc.

So what do you guys think? Is this a lost cause? Is this just another attempt to fool myself into being organised? Got a better idea for me?

One Response to “Combatting Stress – Step 1- Getting Organised”
  1. Jodie from Michigan says:

    I am currently a full time employee, have my own business on the side and attend graduate school for a PhD in nursing full time. I think I have some organizational credibility here. The work schedule doesn’t change. That is excellent, since we plan vacations a year in advance.

    I have a home calendar that is on my fridge. Tuition, bills, vacations, guests, social and doctor appointments go on this calendar. A month at a glance as well as birthdays of family, anniversaries and friend birthdays!!!! Every weekend we travel to our vacation house. I have a spiral bound weekly/monthly planner that I use for due dates for school assignments. This is where it gets fun! I use color to designate importance. Exams get rid ink. Regular class work is in black for readings (I actually write the chapters required to be read in this planner rather than having to look up the syllabus that may be packed away in my backpack in the trunk of the car or boot if you will). Advisor meetings are in blue. I fill in the month at a glance in the planner with no details (I need to flip to the specific day for times and places) but I highlight, again, in different colors for different classes. And just write “test” in the month at a glance and then the specific day lists all the subject matter that needs to be covered before taking the test. I use a paperclip to make it easy to flip in my planner immediately to the month and day at hand.

    Make it easy on yourself. That is what scrap paper and post it notes are for. You tended to explain your issue as one of not writing it down when it pops into your head. Get a dry erase board on your fridge and write things down that you need when you run out of them before your next shopping trip. Plan small projects that can be accomplished for a feeling of satisfaction (I happen to love crossing stuff off my list!!!!!!). I feel so empowered when I finish something. AND Make time for exercise!!!!!! SCHEDULE IT!!!! Or it won’t happen. Exercise is a great stress reducer. I have purchased an elliptical for my home just so I can’t make any excuses (it’s too cold out, the gym’s not open….this list could go on).

    Focus in on your weakness, accept it, own it and then counter it with a plan. I had to put a little TV in front of my elliptical so I could watch movies while working out. I will never be able to play golf, there is so much stuff to do all the time. I don’t have that kind of time to be out for 18 holes, ever. And someday when you get married hire a cleaning lady for the both of you. It will save the stress of fighting over who should do what.

    I hope this helps. I like to socialize too. I used to have to plan my study time in Saturday morning and then the afternoon would be time for my family and Saturday night would be time with friends. Friday evening would be time with classmates. Sunday I would pack into the library when it opened (noon) with a buddy and leave at 8 pm. I can accomplish anything! And I don’t have time to scratch, really ever. I just keep focusing on the next thing. People have seen me rubbing my back against a doorway while reading before…. Not even kidding.

    Now I need to get back to stat analysis on teamwork and leadership workshop training. Excellent stuff. I can’t veg, ever. Even on vacation I need to research it and then do lots of stuff. Museums, windsurfing, kite surfing, culture, checking out shopping. I am high energy and sleep only six hours. My nine year old niece is starting to make me feel slightly winded….. maybe I’m getting older. Nnnnaaaaaahhhhhh, I feel like I am 22 yet.


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