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College is a stressful time for any student. The majority of that stress comes from deadlines, exams and the consideration of future prospects for when you graduate. Not every student will have to take an exam at university, but every student will experience the stress of a deadline.
Use this step by step guide to conquering your next assignment.
1) Congratulate yourself on the smallest of efforts.
In the early days of your assignments, you're not in full panic mode. But you also shouldn't be completely denying the existence of the looming task in favor of other university commitments, especially the social ones. Begin by doing something minor, for example; scribbling it in your diary, creating a new word document dedicated to the assignment to store research, or highlighting the module guide where it talks about a topic that you could choose to be the focus of your next assignment.
2) Make a plan.
Set out how many weeks or days you have to do this assignment, from there you'll have a more thorough understanding of when will be best to get your assignment done. Many deadlines can conflict, breaking up you're workload across the weeks will help you at the end of the semester.
3) Avoid the negativity on social media.
Social media is a great way to convince yourself during deadline season that no one else is doing work and barely passing is good enough. This helps creates a mentality that you need to stay away from as it makes you comfortably feel as though you're doing just as much as everyone else. It's also a complete lie. Stay away from the social media platforms where this can be the case, especially Facebook.
On the flip side, some students shall use social media to look like they're happily powering through an assignment at four in the morning in the library. This is, in fact, no good for your well being, proper time management will aid you avoiding all-nighters.
4) Doing the minimum for the minor is okay.
There shall be really small assignments you come across in college that shall only be worth five percent, sometimes less! And yet, there shall be some classmates of yours that absolutely cannot control the stress they feel over it. For example,
"Calm down Sarah, it's only a thousand words."
"I know that, Joe. But I was up all night trying to cut down the three thousand words I've already written and order my four pages of references. I couldn't sleep at all!"
If you're a "Joe," you can sleep soundly and save the need to stay up all night for when the big assignments hit. Crunch the numbers online, how much difference will it really make in the long run if Joe scores a decent 58 and Sarah gets a 75 on a five percent assignment. I'm not saying this is a good excuse to be lazy, but it is a great calming device for students dealing with stress; look at the bigger picture!
5) Work at other things.
More often than not, college students that work part-time will start to cancel their shifts later on in the semester. The excuse will always be that they need to do more academic work/ revision. True, it is good to cut back on other commitments to help prioritize your assignments and revision, but a five-hour work shift could actually help you switch your brain off and focus on something else for a change.
In addition to this, it's good to try and learn something else at the same time you're writing your assignments. A personal trick of mine is to take a break and name the 50 States of America in an online quiz. Your mind is still working, but you're no longer fully absorbed in a sometimes one-note subject. Doing this as opposed to fully switching off by going on your phone or watching TV helps you to not lose momentum because you don't need to force yourself back into a study mindset.
6) Write anything and everything.
Drafting and editing is key. The first step, however, is expressing what you want to say for this first time which can be incredibly difficult for any student. The best advice that can be given for getting over assignments writers' block and to get-going is to write anything that comes to mind, even if it sounds incredibly stupid and is nowhere near up to an academic-writing standard. Swear if you must, just remember to edit it out later! Expand on your points to create your arguments and then thesaurus some words and make it sound smart. If you get stuck on a sentence because you can't remember a specific number or you are unable to think of a certain word, write "X" or use a code word such as "Elephant." It will make it clear where you need to edit the next draft.
Your lecturers will always tell you to use a variety of sources. Listen to them. Keep all your research in one place ready to be arranged into an essay. Use color-coded text to arrange different forms of research such as quotes, case studies, and statistics. Write out the correct citations and form a bibliography before you have properly begun writing. It will allow you to write freely without worrying about referencing later on.
8) Use your lectures.
Not all lectures are useful or relevant to your assignments. Be prepared to work on your essay in class. When taking notes in lectures, highlight things specifically relevant to your individual assignment and incorporate them immediately. Use the notes as starting points to avoid falling into the trap of going off topic.
9) Reward yourself.
Not everything at college is about academic work. Don't shut yourself in 24/7. Remember to schedule breaks to get out of your home or the library. Even in a working day from nine to five, employees are required to take breaks. Apply that idea to your best study hours, whether it is from six in the morning until twelve noon or from eight in the evening until three in the morning.
10) Meal Prep
Don't neglect to eat whilst studying. Also, don't binge eat a ton of takeaway that makes you feel bloated, fatigued and dizzy. Take some measures to eat properly during long study sessions, there are many easy recipes that can be found online with little effort and ingredients. Various pasta dishes, for example, can be easy and cheap to whip up whilst churning out over a thousand words in one sitting.
11) The Deadline
Set your deadline in your diaries ahead of the formal deadline, because everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Your laptop can break, your printer won't work, your wifi will fail, you'll be called in to work an extra shift etc. Leave at least 48 hours for final amendments, hand in and uploading. Then when it's all done, celebrate and repeat.
There you have it. The structure and organization you'll learn from this guide can also be applied past college life to a professional working environment. You can also personalize this structure to your individual self, think about what helps you settle down and focus when writing an assignment. Listening to music, for example, is a good idea, burying your head in the sand until the last minute is not.