Have you ever waited until the last minute to do a paper? Study for a test? Complete a group assignment? I know I have, and the outcome is never fun.
It’s not that there is necessarily a bad grade that comes out of this, but rather sheer exhaustion as well as the start of a terrible cycle.
The rushing, frantic working and high anxiety that accompanies last minute work is draining, perpetuating days of recuperation time and catalyzing nothing but a repeat of the same cycle.
Nope, it’s not fun. At all. And it’s certainly not useful.
You may be thinking that there is no way to keep this from happening, if only on a sporadic basis.
However, last semester I learned that this is, in fact, completely preventable.
At the end of last semester I had 7 papers, 5 presentations, and 2 tests left at one point, and the key to success was completely dependent on planning ahead.
Use these tips to plan ahead and, in turn, maintain your sanity:
1. Spread it out – just about a month ago, I sat watching Gossip Girl, so happy that I, unlike many of my classmates, had worked diligently on a big paper bit by bit since it was first assigned. I was not frantically researching and writing until all hours of the night because I’d spread the work out over a decent period of time. This not only made my life less stressful, but gave me more time to edit and revise, in turn helping my grade. Applying this concept to work, especially big assignments, is a huge help to ensure that you are not rushing at the last minute and turning in sloppy work.
2. Make outlines – I basically live my life by outlines…since they are super useful! I outline projects, papers, blogs, and even my days. For instance, take an outline for a paper. I write out my thesis, what each body paragraph will consist of, and how the paper will end. In this, I include works to cite and research I must include. Then, once I start working on the paper…guess what?! It’s so simple because it becomes almost like a fill-in-the-blank since I have a plan. Taking the time to write outlines also gives you time to think everything through logically and come up with great organization to papers, projects, and so on that you might not have otherwise.
3. Work everyday – (or at least almost) I understand this does not sound like the most appealing idea, but trust me, it works. Map out in the beginning of the week, month, or semester how much work you should do on each class, assignment, or project each day in order to get it finished bit by bit. Working on things every day builds momentum and when you’re doing just pieces of things it goes by quickly! This may sound tedious, but it’s totally worth it.
4. Set goals – having goals for not only the end of whatever you are looking to accomplish but periodically through completing it helps you press through it. Set goals for each week of the semester of what you’d like to have finished. This helps with building momentum as well, because completing goals (even small ones) raises self esteem and can inspire you to keep going!
5. Get excited! – I am well aware that many of you probably wouldn’t put the words work and excited in the same sentence…but go with me on this one. Finding something to be interested in and excited about while completing work motivates you. When doing an assignment, make it your own and find something that really intrigues you about it and go with it.
I understand that working this way isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try. Happy studying!