Tim from our Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) shares top tips for managing academic deadlines…
Academic assignments do not always arrive one at a time with their deadlines conveniently spaced out. So here are a few tips that will help you manage multiple deadlines.
Break assignments down: Consider the stages of work that you’ll need to undertake to complete each assignment. These may include tasks such as planning, researching, drafting, editing, and checking. If you identify and understand the individual steps that are required to complete your assignment it will appear less daunting. This, in turn, will prevent you from procrastinating and enable you to start work on it. Starting assignments as early as possible will help you meet your deadlines.
Use a term planner: Seeing your academic deadlines clearly marked on a planner or calendar (alongside all your other fixed commitments such as lectures and seminars) will allow you to plan accordingly to meet them. So, working back from the deadline, allocate time for each stage of work on your planner. If you are working on multiple assignments, you can colour-code each one to give you a clear overview of which assignments you need to be working on during any given day or week. Your term planner will help you stay on track to meet your deadline, but if you find yourself falling behind schedule you can review and amend it.
Work efficiently: Meeting deadlines is not just about allocating time for each stage of an assignment. It also means using that time as efficiently as possible, by breaking each day into chunks of time and allocating a specific task to each of them. Each task should be goal focussed – whether that goal is meeting an assignment deadline or revising for an exam. It should also be achievable. For example, for a two-hour study period set yourself the task of reading and taking notes on a useful chapter of a book (which you can do), rather than the entire book (which you probably can’t). This technique will help you build momentum and feel that hour after hour, day after day, you are taking a series of small but successful steps towards meeting your deadline. Allow time for breaks and vary your activities during the day – perhaps mixing some reading and notetaking tasks with some planning and writing tasks – to help you stay fresh, engaged and productive.
Finally, don’t suffer in silence: Deadlines rarely move, so start assignments as soon as you can, and address problems when they arise. If you don’t understand a question, seek clarification from your lecturer. If you feel you don’t know how to start planning or writing your essay, or feel stuck half-way through writing one, seek advice on essay writing from the Student Learning Advisory Service.
Good luck with your assignment!