A Quick Guide to Surviving Deadline Season

There’s only a month or so to go until the end of term, and whilst we all want nothing more than to tuck into some Quality Street and re-watch Elf for the dozenth time, most of us have one final obstacle standing between us and a well-deserved Christmas break: deadlines. This is my brief guide to surviving (and thriving!) in November at University. 

 

1) Find a productive place to work

Everyone works differently. Some people love to cosy up in their room all day, typing away; others prefer the quiet of the library; and some enjoy working in cafes and public spaces. Finding what sort of study space suits you is an essential part of university life. You may find you prefer different spaces on different occasions.

I mainly like to work in my room, but I also enjoy going to a café for a change of scene and working in a more lively, ‘buzzing’ atmosphere. Remember that nobody works in exactly the same way, so don’t worry if what feels right for you doesn’t seem to be the status quo. Explore your options and get to work! 

 

2) Research before you write!

It can be easy to rush straight into writing your essay, researching as you go along, especially if you’re passionate about the topic! It’s not always fun to read through pages of dense information, but your essays and assignments will read much better if they’re literature-informed, not just literature-supported.

For me, step one of any assignment is copying and pasting the title into the library catalogue and exploring all the existing theories and debates out there. I select a range to print off, annotate the heck out of them, and then (finally!) I decide what my argument will be. Making sure you’ve got an informed answer to a question will give you much greater confidence in your response when you’re writing your essay, and you’ll find the actual writing of your essay takes a lot less time when you’ve got all your research to hand.

I know a lot of people (myself included) who can get carried away when they’re exploring a debate they’re passionate about, jumping straight into their arguments without thinking about the arguments that already exist. Research matters! Don’t neglect it. 

 

3) Visit your lecturer in their office hours

Office hours are a massively underused support mechanism at university.

I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to go and see your lecturer during deadline season to discuss your coursework with them. Whether you’ve got no idea what approach you want to take and you need some clarification, or you want them to take a look at your essay plan, or you're just a bit confused about a point in one of your sources – they can help!

I always go and see my lecturer when I’ve made an essay plan, we talk it over and they always have some really helpful guidance to offer. If nothing else you’ll leave reassured, knowing that you’re at least on the right tracks.  

 

4) Work with other people on your course

Finding people on your course who are working on the same assignment, or even the same question/topic as you can also be helpful. Discussing what your arguments are, sharing good sources you’ve found, and getting another pair of eyes on your essays can be invaluable.

I recommend meeting up for coffee with your essay plans and having an informal chat about how everyone is getting on. Not only will you probably get some fab advice, it’s a chance to pause and give yourself a bit of a social break, without the guilt of feeling unproductive! My favourite meeting spots are the Waterstones Café and Chococo in town, or Costa on campus.

 

Now stop procrastinating online and get to work!