Time Management: How Distress Helps You Be Your Best

Let’s be honest...college is hard. No matter what school you go to, whether it is a big or small school, a public university or private university, you will face many challenges. Everyone will, at some point in his or her college experience, have a moment where he or she deals with stress.  In fact, I’m sure that whoever is reading this right now can agree that you have already dealt with stress so far in your life.  If you’re like me, you probably will experience stress on a daily basis.  Sometimes, the stress may even be hourly.  But I want you to know that, even though everyone has probably experienced stress, you and your experiences are unique to who you are as an individual. You have your own friends, routines, ambitions, worries and craziness and you know your life better than anyone. But I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Sometimes, no matter how amazing you are in school, your extra curricular activities, and staying in touch with your family and friends, life can become overwhelming. Life is a juggling act. What it all comes down to is your ability to use your time effectively and productively, while staying sane and taking time for yourself.  I am here to provide you with some insight about what I do to keep myself in check when my life feels like it’s spinning out of control.



I don’t know about you, but I am the type of person who feels incredibly relieved when I check something off a list. Writing things down makes me feel like I have some control in my life. Will you have assignments, tests and papers in college? Yes! Will you want to get together with friends and go out to eat? Of course! Will you have club meetings and group assignments? Probably. With all of these responsibilities, fun and maybe not so fun, your workload can become overwhelming. Because of this, I highly suggest you write down your responsibilities and plan in advance because this will help you remove pressure from your life. By doing this, hopefully you will no longer be surprised when you have a quiz and you won’t forget when you’re supposed to meet up with friends.

It’s never a good feeling when you feel unprepared. So prepare! If anything, even if you don’t follow your exact plan, it is rewarding to know that you have a plan. It also feels nice to know that you took 30 minutes or an hour out of your day to think about your future, whether it is the near or distant future. Not only will you have a better idea about what is going on in your life right now and in the coming weeks, but you will be able to gauge which points in your life will be the most stressful.  For example, you will know when a test is coming up. Knowing this will encourage you to make yet another plan for how to study for this test given the time you have to prepare. It will also make you feel less stressed right before the exam. If you know what is coming up and what responsibilities you have in advance, I guarantee you will feel better now and better later. So, even though the world may feel as though it is crashing upon you every once in a while, take a deep breath and take some time to yourself where you can write down all that you have to do. At the end of the day, you will have those responsibilities whether you do them or not. But life is so much more than just getting things done. Life is about doing the best you can with the circumstances you are in. So I encourage you to write. It will leave you feeling empowered in the present and happy in the end because you will know you tried your hardest. Worst comes to worst, things don’t go as you planned and you amend your habits. But don’t let that discourage you because life is all about learning how to better yourself after experiencing tough situations. 



So after you’ve planned your life out, you may experience some relief. But sometimes that relief just isn’t enough. It feels as though it’s only temporary because you are constantly looking forward and getting overwhelmed with how your responsibilities will never end. Even though you’ve been going above and beyond in all that you do, it still feels like you’re not doing enough, don’t have everything quite right, and still have more to excel in. But don’t let this chaos get you down. Take a breath, roll your shoulders back, and take some time for yourself. It is honestly frustrating when you feel like you are bearing the weight of the entire world on your shoulders and you don’t want to burden others with your stress because you know they too are overwhelmed with college. But remember that you are important and have worth. It’s okay to not be okay. Don’t feel bad for seeking help.

While it is awesome to utilize resources like friends or counselors, sometimes the best place to seek help is from yourself. When I have little time to get away, I go for a run or I workout for two hours. It allows me to focus on my body. Not only does it allow me to focus on something other than my responsibilities, but also it makes me feel like I have control. Plus, my body will thank me later. It is a win-win situation.  

But when I do have more time, I often introspect. I highly recommend that you try this too.  What I mean by introspect is that sometimes it’s good to just get away from life and people so you can truly think about how you are feeling. I, personally, love talking to others and being someone they can rely on. I love being a shoulder to cry on or a soundboard. I love giving advice. But sometimes, getting away from advice and the opinions of others can be beneficial.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I personally love going into nature. I love to just walk around and admire the beauty in life. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful campus where I can do this on my walks to class, but sometimes it’s awesome to get off campus for a change of pace. Go on a hike. Or maybe just sit on a bench and look up at the trees. Go find a stream where you can listen to the water and leaves rustling. Doing this reminds me not only that there is beauty in the world, but that life is quite simple. Focus on your breath. This may sound silly, but focusing on your surroundings and your breath and heartbeat can divert your thoughts from responsibilities to just how awesome it is that you are a human being, here in this beautiful place we call earth.



So, even though college is a balancing act where you have so many expectations, responsibilities and things do to, I want to remind you that you have worth. You are important. When in doubt, think about why you are involved in all that you do. I hope that you are going to school so you can expand your interests, get a great education and go out into the world with the skills you need to make it a better place. I hope that you are doing what you are doing now so you can enjoy your life now and be passionate about what you do later. Time management is hard and, like anything in life, it is going to take practice. But just remember to take time for yourself and to never stop pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself you can be.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett

Related We Are IU Articles:
Balancing Priorities in College
The Ups and Downs of College Life
A Healthier, Wealthier (maybe), Wiser You

About The Author
Lauren EdwardsStudent Blogger

I am currently a sophomore from a small school in Colorado who came to Indiana University to receive the full college experience.  I am majoring in Psychology and double-minoring in Counseling and Law and Public Policy.  So far I’ve enjoyed learning more about the fields of Psychology and Law, going to sporting and arts events, and getting involved.  I love being a campus tour guide through the Office of Admissions, the Marketing Chair for Psi Chi (The International Honor Society for Psychology), a Psychology Teaching Assistant, and a member in Greek life.  I did not come to Indiana University just to receive a great education, but I came here for the Big10 culture, the beautiful campus, and the Hoosier traditions. I am lucky enough to say that I found home here at at Indiana University Bloomington.