5 D’s for Combatting Overwhelm

The winter semester is nearing its end and with that many students may be experiencing a huge sense of overwhelm.  Term papers, finals and all of life’s responsibilities can lead to feelings of being smothered with too many tasks and a lack of control.  So just what can you do to manage it all? The 5 D strategy can help you identify your priorities and gain control of your tasks to relieve the stress around all that is required of you.

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5 D Strategy:

DUMP: Do a mind dump!  Get all of your tasks and responsibilities out of your head and onto paper.  Many students think they can manage their days and to do lists without writing things down, however keeping things in your head takes up space and brain power that you could otherwise be using for other things.  Make a list of all that is expected of you from now until the end of the semester for school and outside of school. By writing down your tasks, you will no longer need to “remember” them.

DELETE: Sometimes we have tasks on our list that are not necessary and can be removed to make space for other things.  Look at your list and eliminate all the items that are not absolutely required.

DEFER:  Identify items on your list that you haven’t been able to delete, but that can be delayed or pushed to a later time.  These items are still required, so make sure you visit your priorities daily so they don’t get missed.

DELEGATE: Often times students have difficulty asking for help.  Successful students are resourceful students, so make sure you tap into the support available on campus and among your friend and family circle.  Building a network of support is critical for anyone to succeed, so remember that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Do: Create your days with focus and intention by blocking time to accomplish specific items on your list.  Take into consideration due dates and be realistic about how much time things will take to complete.  When your calendar says it’s time to work, eliminate distractions so you can focus.  If you find yourself feeling scattered, refer to your list of to do’s and ask yourself if what you are doing at the moment is a priority.  Don’t forget to make yourself a priority and make time to get adequate sleep, eat healthy food and spend time with family and friends.

Being a college student is demanding and overwhelming at times. Don’t panic or let anxiety steal your thunder.  Remember that “CALM IS A SUPERPOWER” and implementing the 5 D strategy to weather the challenging times will allow you to be in control.

If you need help with student success strategies, I am available for appointments and drop-in service in the library.



Published by

Justine McKennie

Academic Strategist at Medicine Hat College. I am passionate about genuinely empowering students to take control of their academic experience and habits of working so they can have the most fulfilling journey possible at MHC.

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