Being busy doesn't have to come with stress and the desire to rip out your hair...yes, really! Some people insist they do better under pressure. Personally, I'd rather do without! If you're like me, then you'd probably benefit from getting organized early and making a plan. Here are some tips, from me to you:
You remember when you were in school and somehow all your tests and projects were due the same day, and all the panic it immediately stirred within you? Okay, maybe that's just me.
Still, you're not in school anymore. You have control over the dates! Even if something won't take you long, make sure to set the date at a different time than others are due. The same goes for sub-tasks that make up the big project. Give them some space! If there's a deadline you can't change, that's fine--at least you've minimized your chances for any final countdown deadlines.
Always, always, always give yourself more time than you need. Depending on the task, you don't necessarily need to double it, but at least give reasonable space in case the worst should happen. What if your computer crashes? You get sick a day or two? A rush job comes flying into your inbox? Be prepared. Extra time, combined with spaced out deadlines, give you a good safety net in case things go wrong. The unexpected will happen--trust me!
It's my personal habit to re-assess my project priorities every morning. What requires the most attention, and what can wait a while? Rank these tasks so you know what should be done now, today, tomorrow, or later. I also make this a checklist so I can keep track of my progress. Keeping this organized task list in the back of your mind is immensely helpful for giving yourself complete awareness of what needs to be done by when, and make any unexpected items easier to slide into your schedule.
Some people can work on one project all day. But me? I need variety! Take some of the easy sub-tasks of lower priority projects and sandwich them between time you dedicate to working on the larger, more immediate ones. Knocking out easy tasks as you go helps boost your motivation, as well as give you a needed change of pace. Here's another added bonus: if a deadline suddenly gets moved to two days from now, you've already gotten part of it done! You might still sweat it, but not as much as if you hadn't worked on it at all.
This one can be hard for some people, and they feel guilty about taking an afternoon or even just an hour off. Well, repeat after me: "I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR TAKING A BREAK." Say it again if you have to! A third time, even! For all the work you do, you deserve a break. Plus they are good for helping you rest and come back to work fresh and ready to go. Working and stressing yourself to death doesn't help at all. Not in productivity or quality! Try different work/break balances until you find something that fits for you. Will you work for an hour, and take a twenty minute rest? How about five minutes for every twenty? There's a reason the Pomodoro Technique is so popular--it works!