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8 Things NOT to Do When You’ve Procrastinated an Essay for Class

Okay, so you’ve got a big article due on (pick your day of the week). You haven’t started—have you even thought about it? There are pros and cons to this: you have a fresh, energized mind, fueled by the stress of the deadline. On that same token, you do have a deadline, and it’s approaching fast. Here are some tips on what not to do when you’ve procrastinated this long.

1. Don’t act like you have forever

Know your deadline! Knowing when you’ll need to have the paper done is crucial. Also need to know—do you need to print it? Does it need to be submitted on Canvas? Do you need to email it? You first need to know this answer.

2. Don’t ignore the task at hand

What is the prompt? Some class papers are prompt-based, and so knowing what prompts to write on is important. Also, know your word limit. (Another thing, teachers know that BS with extra spacing and larger periods. So don’t try it.)

3. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill 

Think about what you can feasibly write before the deadline. Don’t create a Herculean task out of a trip to the store. i.e., don’t make this paper harder than it should be. While I’m biased, papers are not as hard as they are made out to be.

4. Don’t have an argument-free paper

Create an argument that someone can argue with. This is something people struggle with. Papers aren’t just quote writing fests—they are meant to express your opinions. Make an opinion, and make sure you say why your opinion is important to the task at hand. (Listing, though, is never a good route. Make your claim and say why it matters. Save all the good explanations for the body of the text)

5. Don’t turn in your first draft

Please, you must edit your work. You might have misspelled macroeconomics. You might have accidentally left some stuff uncited. Please, for the love of all that is holy, check yourself. (Remember, you wrote this late at night. Do you remember what you do at night?)

6. Don’t ask the teacher for an extension 

Unless you have an excuse (and teachers can generally be flexible) asking for a last-minute extension might not fly. When asking for extensions, make sure to do so in a timely manner after talking to them. Teachers like to talk to their students. It’s their thing.

 

7. Don’t let yourself think you won’t be able to do it 

All of us have done things we never thought we would. We’ve climbed mountains, asked that hot person out on a date, run a lap. So you’ll be able to finish this paper.

 

8. Don’t forget that you aren’t alone

Even English majors (like myself) procrastinate papers. Procrastination is a disease and we can all, eventually, overcome it. You’re allowed to worry, but you can do it. From all of those who have procrastinated, we believe in you. You will finish this paper.

Hannah an English Literature major at Auburn University.
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