“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”

Feeling overwhelmed? Communication is key.

We’ve all been there — you begin a project for a class or an internship and quickly realize that there is more to do than you initially anticipated. Your to-do list feels as if it’s a mile long, you don’t know what to tackle first and you fear you might not meet the deadline. 

The digital marketing team here at the Pearce Center recently dealt with this issue, too. At the start of the semester, we sat down with our supervisor, Ashley Fisk, and discussed our goals for the coming months. We came up with a long list of exciting projects we wanted to work on and made action plans for all of the tasks that we needed to complete by the end of the semester. However, we quickly realized that we bit off more than we could chew. In the midst of our excitement and ambition, we created so much to do for each individual project that we couldn’t find a solid, initial foothold for any of them.

As we started to feel overwhelmed, our team took these concerns to Ashley and told her how we were feeling. We communicated with her about how our work was going. Through this conversation, we rearranged our semester’s schedule. Certain tasks were pushed to the bottom of the pile while others were declared the most important. We were given some tangible first steps to take to begin doing some great work for the Pearce Center. All four of us felt more comfortable and in control of our workload. 

During our conversation, Ashley shared with us a piece of advice that she is currently teaching her five-year-old daughter. She always tells her, “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” It might seem simple and elementary, but this was important for our team to hear. It doesn’t matter if you scrape your knee on the kindergarten playground or set unrealistic timelines for your university projects, the motherly advice still applies. 

The biggest word of advice we have for you in this situation is this: say something. Speak up when you are feeling overwhelmed, whether it is to your supervisor at an internship or to a professor in a class you are taking. Generally speaking, these people all want to help you succeed, but they can’t do that if you struggle in silence. 

Ask for those people’s advice — mentors, teachers, advisors or teammates — and  see how they would approach the project. A fresh perspective always provides valuable insights and clarity. Maybe that individual would reorganize the tasks or re-prioritize. Or, maybe you are just overthinking something that is actually quite simple. Your mentor might have some really useful advice to make the project more manageable, but you will never get those tips if you don’t ask. Even if there is no way to simplify the task at hand, speaking about your concerns to someone else will make you feel better. It certainly helped us. Talking it out can help you come up with a clear game plan to tackle all the work you need to do and gives you the chance to vent about your stress. 

Don’t keep your struggles to yourself — speak up. Your classes and work life will be much more fun and enriching if you can relax into your workload and actually enjoy it. 

By: Taylor Summey


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