Living deadline to deadline

Close up of someone's eyes

It’s that time of the year as we begin to tread the muddy waters of the final few teaching weeks. The mud is thick, and I surely can’t seem to move. 

The final month of the semester is always the most hectic with final assignments coming up and exam preparations underway. Since the end of the mid-semester break, I’ve found myself living from deadline to deadline. My calendar filled with due dates of various assignments, group meetings and plans scribbled in red ink to mark the urgency of the matter. 

I don’t think I’ve spent my waking thoughts on anything else other than those deadlines. Ok, that’s a lie, I was just devouring the recent Taylor Swift-Matty Healy rumours that was swirling around the internet this past weekend, but I couldn’t even do that without thinking about my project report due in a month’s time. 

I’m being devoured by these deadlines and because of that, I’ve found myself paralysed. The overwhelming feeling I’m getting in my brain is killing my mood to study or even get a start on my essays. All I’ve been wanting to do is scroll mindlessly through Pinterest to mute my racing thoughts and suppress my looming anxiety. You know, tap into the object permanence of an infant, so I can pretend those deadlines don’t exist. 

But alas, I am an adult and I know that even when I’m not thinking about them, I still have to face those assignments and notes eventually. 

The worst thing is the feeling that comes after my attempt at escaping my thoughts – the guilty feeling of having done nothing to progress my studies and assignments. It’s a vicious cycle I’m currently in, like that muddy water has now turned into a whirlpool. 

I’m determined not to let it pull me under, though. I’m too far into the semester to give up now, so I have to devise a plan to pull me out of this rut. 

One major thing I’ve found helpful is to be realistic with my daily to do lists. I could get lost for hours just listing all the things I have to do but I have to take a step back and consider just how much of those things I could actually get done today. I wouldn’t want to stress myself further when it’s dark out and I’ve barely crossed anything off my list, so depending on the nature of the work, I’ll try to limit myself to just two or three urgent to-dos daily followed by less important but easy to do things. 

Unsurprisingly, I get to focus on my tasks better when I’m not anticipating a huge mound of work. I get things done and at the end, I feel better about my progress as I cross out everything off my list. Oh, the power of compartmentalisation.

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Tagged in What messes with your head, study, stress, study routine, study tips, study stress, final exam, exam stress, international student