Posts Tagged ‘prioritization’

Triage: Learning to Prioritize And Reduce Stress

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

tri·age

trēˈäZH

noun

1.

(in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.

verb

1.

assign degrees of urgency to (wounded or ill patients).

A few years ago, a nurse told me, “You need to learn how to triage.” She was referring to my schoolwork and life balance using terminology from the hospital. Triage is the process of determining the urgency of a patient’s condition and prioritizing all patients by immediacy of need for transportation and care. For example, someone with an injury to their vital organs will obviously be prioritized above someone with a broken wrist. The nurse was the mother of someone close to me, and I was insulted because I thought she was criticizing my priorities and goals as being wrong. In retrospect, I realize what she saw: a stressed out college student who had no time for anything but school, starved of any fun and relaxation.

https://indulgy.com/

https://indulgy.com/

Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with how I prioritize time and goals. Sometimes I’m still not certain I’ve got it “right,” but I think this is true for everyone: balance is not a tidy endpoint with a bow on it. Life is always throwing us curve balls, and even when we see them coming we’re not always prepared for the blow. Priorities change, circumstances change, and our goals and estimations of what will make us happy change. And finding the right balance between the many facets of wellness, from exercise and diet to confidence and self presentation, relationships, sleep hygiene, and mental health—on top of the rest of life  (family, chores, school, work, and other responsibilities) is a process and a challenge. But there’s also no feeling like equilibrium. You will genuinely feel healthier, happier, more energetic, and more peaceful when you find it, whatever that equilibrium looks like for you.

In this eternal pursuit of balance, I’ve been learning how to triage. It seems simple and obvious in the context of a hospital and physical injuries, but it can be harder to do with school. Some instances are easy: Say you have a chemistry exam and a French quiz on the same day. The chemistry exam is worth 30 percent of your grade for the course, while the French quiz is 10 percent. You have a limited amount of time to study. Which one do you prioritize? For high-aiming achievers, making these kinds of judgments is inherently stressful because everything feels like a #1 priority. I’ve learned a few effective steps for prioritization that have helped me be a calmer, happier, healthier person, and I hope they help you too!

https://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

https://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

1. Write down all the tasks you need to get done

The list might look overwhelming at first, but having a physical copy of your tasks allows you to sort through them visually. In your brain, they’re all floating around with equal weight. On paper, they become concrete things that can be ordered and reordered.

2. Triage!

Which obligation is going to metaphorically bleed out and die if you don’t see to it immediately? Which one is an extremity that needs stitches, but not urgent? Assess which tasks need to be completed sooner than others based on time constraints.

3. Consider tasks based on value

If your long term goal is to get a certain grade in a class, then in general it makes sense to do the reading for that class consistently instead of hitting the gym every single day. But now and then you might really need a sweat sesh or an endorphin boost, and if that’s going to be more valuable by upping your mood and energy, it might be worth it to skim through that night’s reading.

4. Consider tasks based on effort

With tasks that have comparable value, estimate how much effort each task will require. Start with the more difficult task first. That way, when you’re losing steam, you’ll still be able to make it through the easier tasks leftover.

5. Accept the limitations of reality

There will be instances where you simply won’t be able to do everything on the list and something needs to go. After you’ve made your time and value estimates for your task list, eliminate the ones you know you can’t get to that day and give your all to the things you can.

I hope these prioritization tips help bring you balance and peace of mind in your pursuit of wellness, success, and happiness! Please share this chapter and these pointers with anyone you think might benefit from them. Though heavily modified from any canonical origin of the Buddha’s teachings, I do appreciate the popular quote, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” So it is with wellness. Sharing will never decrease your own. Go forth, share, flourish, and delight in your life!

http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Equilibrium_Manipulation

http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Equilibrium_Manipulation

By Sofia Lerner


Sofia Lerner is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is studying English as a senior at NYU. Passionate about literature, dance, and wellness, Sofia aspires to help the arts thrive and help others pursue healthy lifestyles. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Chambers of Solitude: the October Schlump

Sunday, June 6th, 2010
Big Apple

New York City: you don't have to see all of it in a month

About a month into the fall semester, a phenomenon occurs that I refer to as the October Schlump. It’s easy to recognize: first-year students, (who every night up till then have turned Washington Square into a giant social playground,) suddenly disappear. For a few weeks they are conspicuously absent, and then slowly, as Halloween approaches, they begin to tentatively reemerge from their dorms. What happened?

I know, because I went through it. For students new to this amazing city, that first month is like a dream. So many wonderful things to see and do that were never available before; new friends to make, new places to go, new things to discover. But it really feels like a dream: there’s a constant sense that this is illusory, that at any moment you will wake up and this opportunity you worked so hard for will dissolve around you. When a new friend invites you to go to this party at their friend’s place in Brooklyn, you think, Brooklyn! When else will I get to see Brooklyn?! When you read about a new exhibit at the MoMA, you think, the MoMA! When else will I be able to visit the MoMA?! When you pass a new Mexican restaurant in the Village offering a two-for-one Margarita special, you think . . .  well, you get the idea.

This lifestyle is, of course, impossible to maintain. About a month in, you wake up one day, maybe around 5 PM, and think, what day is it? You realize that you slept through an entire day of classes. See, you meant to just take a short nap – it was 3 AM, you’d just gotten back from a party at a friend’s – Happy Wednesday! – and you realized you didn’t have any clean clothes, so what a perfect time to do laundry! You threw a load in the washer, and then came back up to finish that essay on Socrates – that’s what New York’s about, multitasking! – and about two pages in thought, I’ll just take a quick nap – an hour or two, tops. After all, you haven’t slept in two days, so it’s about time to give the body a little refresher. Now here you are, essay not finished, classes missed, your load of laundry having been removed from the washer and scattered aimlessly all over the laundry room floor by some jerk. And even after sleeping twelve hours, you still feel tired. Or not tired, more than tired – exhausted. Your resources have been depleted; nothing in you wants to get out of bed, go anywhere, do anything. The momentum is gone.

This is the October Schlump. Although skipping meals and missing sleep are major contributing factors, the Schlump is not a disease, at least not physically. It’s the mental state that settles in when you realize that you barely have any idea what you did in the past month. You were in constant motion, you went and saw and did a million amazing things, but you can barely remember any of them. Some of them you liked, some of them you didn’t, but which were which?

So, for about a week, you don’t go out. You stay inside, do homework, get lots of sleep, eat right, and figure out what to do next. In that time, you realize that New York City isn’t going anywhere. It won’t disappear under your feet one day; it will be there the next day when you wake up, and the day after that, and the day after that. You will have at least four years, at most the rest of your life, to explore. So after that week, when friends call you up and invite you to this or that, you can say no, not tonight, rain-check. You don’t even need to give a reason. You can (in fact, you must) spend a night in now and then. And you must do is reflect. You are swimming in a sea of new experiences, new stimuli, new ideas, and some are good for you and some are not. You can have all these experiences but if you never stop to reflect on what they mean, they are – literally – meaningless.

As anyone who’s lived in a dorm can attest, dorms can be a lot of fun, but they aren’t really the best places for quiet reflection. After my October Schlump, I began to seek out places I could go to be by myself, to think and ponder, to reflect and debate. I can’t give you the answers to the big questions of life that all college students confront during those four years – I don’t have them. But I can share with you come places I think will provide the stillness, the solitude, within the bustling metropolis that we call home, to find some of these answers. And I will call them Chambers of Solitude. More to come.

And in the meantime, if you need to a moment of calm and some advice on chill-axing, (sorry, I won’t use that word again,) go here.

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How to save lives and find time to study for finals

Friday, May 21st, 2010

It was my junior year, and I was convinced that if I added anything more complex than “brush teeth” to my To Do list it would explode. I had finals, papers, lab research, two jobs, a jobless boyfriend, and a stack of bills that made my ceiling look low. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that even Einstein wouldn’t be able to squeeze free time into my schedule. And then I met Loki. Though, at the time, his name was Mary.

I was interviewing a veterinarian at his clinic for a project (get in, get out – very simple stuff). But despite my better judgment, I decided to see the animals in the kennel. That’s when I saw him: a tiny white kitten who had been left in a cardboard box outside the clinic. The vet named him Mary (weird sense of humor). I saw that terrified little face, picked up my phone, and called Jobless Boyfriend. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “How would you feel if we got a cat? He really needs a home.”
JB: “Oh my God. Can we afford it?”
Me: “No.”
JB: “Um…”
Me: “Let’s do it?”
JB: “Okay!”

The next day, we adopted another cat (Spliooshka) because we figured they could keep each other company. And here’s the bizarre thing that happened:

Free time appeared out of thin air. While I could have sworn to you that I didn’t even have time to do laundry, here I was, adopting animals and kitten-proofing my apartment.

This wonderful calm came over me because the task at hand was suddenly so simple, so single-minded. I didn’t have to wonder what I should do first or second. And at the end of the day, I had two soft and fuzzy creatures tackling one another playfully and purring on either side of me. I smiled, picked up my notebooks, and studied for my finals.

The funny thing that happened when I re-prioritized was that I felt less stress (so I wasted less time worrying and trying to figure out what to do next), I concentrated better, I eliminated all unnecessary tasks, and I found the time to get everything done. At work, I even asked for a raise (keeping the cats in mind) and got it.

Am I suggesting you go adopting animals to do better on your tests? Not necessarily. If you can’t commit to caring wholeheartedly for a pet, then don’t. If you can, please do. There are millions of little furry lives that need saving. But the bigger lesson here is that we get so caught up in our To Do lists and responsibilities that we lose sight of the big picture: that life is about enjoying yourself and doing great things. Sometimes remembering something more important than finals can help put everything else into perspective.

P.S. If you’re interested in adopting an animal and would like some advice on where to go and what to do, please drop me a line!

P.P.S. Loki and Spliooshka (cool cats Logan, and Lady, and our newly adopted dog, Scarlett) say hi.

– Tania Luna

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