At this time of the year we are surrounded by those who are approaching stress and challenges. Some may be about to start writing exams, others are really busy at work. It has been interesting to compare how people approach the last quarter of the year. Some consider it a major challenge, others seem to take it in their stride. Some focus and go into ‘shut-down’ mode, others find light relief on a regular basis, even resorting to cleaning out their cupboards! Some resort to denial, the easiest but least effective coping mechanism. When I am asked how one keeps balance, I always respond by saying that the answer lies within, how you as an individual plan and prepare for the task ahead to avoid unnecessary stress. What suits you may never suit me.
How do you start to cope when deadlines are looming or you are about to write exams? Use the P plan – plan, prepare and prioritise.
- Plan your use of time. Most important! This fast pace life we living can run away with you. Plan to use your free time wisely – exercise, relax and make time for yourself. Working around the clock without exercise or good nutrition takes its toll, and will affect your concentration adversely. Remember that your body goes into flight or fright mode when stressed, and you need to ensure that you remain calm.
- Prepare your work space and your timetable/diary realistically, and those around you. This helps to avoid unnecessary interruptions, distractions, demands and even exciting invitations! Factor in some fun, but preferably once you know that your daily or weekly allocation of work has been covered.
- Learn to distinguish between important and urgent. Whilst some things are important, they are not urgent, and can wait until after exams or your busy time.
I consider myself a perpetual student. Whilst I may not be writing exams, I face busy times and approach each presentation or workshop as I did when I wrote exams. I plan, prepare and prioritise, which shows that good habits die hard, and whatever modus operandi you adopt now, could last you well into your working years. I have also realised that when I stop learning I will no longer be questioning or contributing, and how much use is that? Good luck to all matrics and university students, may all your planning and preparation pay off so that you can join me in the wild and wonderful world of work!