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Occasionally, I have several important, high workload tasks to be done within a short period of time. Some examples would be (as a student) several assignments released at the same time and due at the same time (I have an unusually high class-load), or when (part-time-work which pays the rent) has a peak period and nobody is allowed leave, or when an emergency uses up your planned time to complete tasks.

Obviously, I'm talking about tasks that A) can't be easily delayed, B) have to be done by a deadline, C) there's limited time available, and D) they can't be started earlier. I find myself avoiding tasks even when they're something I'd usually enjoy, and sometimes getting even LESS done than I usually would - as soon as I'm under time pressure for more than a couple of days.

How can I:

  • stay motivated to keep focusing for just that short time
  • avoid burning out
  • prepare in advance for 'next time'? E.g. stock up on easy to prepare meals that can be stored.
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It sounds like you have more things to do than available time. That's a problem. –  Jeanne Boyarsky Oct 30 '12 at 13:28
    
I think you'll get a much better response if you pick which of the three questions you are asking - there are great answers for all three of them, but that's not quite how stack-exchange works... –  Joe Nov 2 '12 at 19:13
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4 Answers

The pressure you describe seems to be both physically and mentally demanding. These would require different approaches in order to increase your tolerance to high pressure situations. Though there are many techniques out there, you will have to experiment to see what works for you. There's plenty of answers ti these questions already.

Generally seeing a situation from a less emotional point of view helps with the fear and anxiety. So finding new ways to look at these situations without the assumption that the task is difficult and you don't think you can do it would be helpful. The way to do this is to imagine how you would act if you were confident about the situation, and then do that everytime it happens. Eventually it will become habit and your feelings will also change.

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Avoid any distraction. Stay focused and minimize wasting your energy for that period of time. My experience shows that to complete a hard task you should switch off the phone, no internet surfing, no music, no talks. Just work. Make short breaks (5-10 min) every 1.5 hours, drink water, have a meal. Stay calm and focused. You may not get all tasks done, but you are likely to achieve your personal maximum. To minimize psychological stress and tension think about that you're doing your best, and whatever the result will be, you'll have no regrets.

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This will depend a lot on how you work but ultimately you may find it comes down to two things: 1. Splitting your projects into smaller tasks, and 2. Setting daily goals (take it one step at a time to avoid overwhelm!)

I have had a similar problem with avoiding even tasks I know I'd enjoy when I'm super busy because there's just too much on my mind. I found that by grabbing a few sheets of paper and breaking each project (an assignment, a piece of work, etc) into all the smaller steps I need to do in order to build up to the full project, things became clearer. You would then set yourself some goals to achieve - either for the day or even for an hour (when I get really busy I have to set myself a deadline in 2 hour blocks or I'll sit and stare up at the sky). The key though is that they have to be realistic and some might even be easy (towards the end of the day when you're more tired if you're a morning person for example) - you want to end on a high and not leave any tasks half finished. This will hopefully help with motivation issues!

If there are any decisions you can make in advance for the next few weeks, make them now or at the beginning of each week when you know what your paid job is going to look like. For example, rather than staring at your laundry and having to occupy a little space in your mind with 'I need to take care of that soon' every time you walk past, determine that you'll do your laundry on Saturday morning between 10 and noon (for example) and put it in your planner. If you're going to have a super busy day and need a take-out dinner, decide now where it's going to be from or if you're going to pick it up at lunch or on your way home. In summary, 'automate the mundane' :)

Make sure that you book in sleep and rest. If you plan for an hour's rest well in advance instead of 'oh I don't feel like doing this piece of work, I'll take an hour off', you won't feel like you're 'skiving' which means you should be able to really rest instead of having your tasks preying on your mind the whole time. You know you'll get more done if you're not exhausted so fingers crossed you can avoid burn out this way.

Best of luck if this busy period is still going on for you! I would say you should worry about how to prepare for 'next time' once this stretch is over... keep your focus and give yourself a big reward to look forward to at the end :)

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Sometimes that's the way it is in university. You have to become comfortable with burning the midnight oil. What's good about university is that you can have study buddies. Find some people who are cheerful and humorous and serious about their and study with them in the library or some common location where there is enough room.

Also another thing is to ensure you sleep right after you are done studying. It is tempting to relax by playing computer games or watching movies but become disciplined enough to not do that and instead use all the time you can get to be fully rested. Something that can help you get relaxed in preparation for bed is meditation.

Also get in good shape and spend at least sometime everyday on hard exercise. It pays back serious dividends in terms of physical and mental stamina. Don't forget to keep having the right nutrition. If you can afford, get some relatively healthy food like subs from subway or burrito bowls light on dressing from chipotle(If you are in america). Please avoid eating crap like ramen noodles and other junk food. Stock up peanut butter, ham, baked chips, oatmeal, wheat bread, brown rice, sardines and dont forget fresh fruit.

Lastly the most important thing is to have a cheerful, positive attitude yourself. Smile and don't let your spirit down when you hit roadblocks. Remind yourself of the excellent progress you have made so far and pat yourself on the back for the small milestones.

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