Summer is over, and school is back. Hopefully it has been an easy transition and you haven’t been taken off guard by the Westminster workload. But eventually, whether you’re a diligent worker or a chronic procrastinator, the work will start to pile up, and you will need to complete some assignments at the last minute. Learning how to do quality work under the stress of an impending deadline is an important skill. I believe that I’m more than qualified to give some tips on this subject, as I have acquired a sort of expertise in this area. I’m not going to describe my extensive resume of last-minute work, but you can rest assured that these tips are coming from a qualified professional. I hope that all of you will do your assignments in a timely manner, but this column is here for you if you’re ever in a pickle.
If you take a look at the rest of the steps, this one might seem the easiest and most obvious of all. But be forewarned, failure to abide by this rule is a death wish for all last-minute workers. It’s easy enough if your assignments are posted somewhere with the due date, but you really need to keep tabs on your work from non-Schoology classes (AKA Language and Math). We all know that moment when you walk into a class and realize that you straight up forgot to do an assignment. You’ll spend the longest 10 minutes of your life hoping the teacher doesn’t ask to see it, but most of the time you’ll get exposed. Worse yet, imagine that you’re in bed about to doze off, but then you remember that your long-forgotten Spanish homework is due first period. Both of these nightmares can be prevented either by creating a calendar by storing tasks in a mental checklist. If you’re able to keep track of all your work, you can execute this five-step process to perfection.
Let’s say you have a four-page paper due tomorrow and under normal circumstances, it would take you three hours to complete. According to this step, you should plan for this one to take you around four and a half hours. You should find four and a half hours in your day and tell yourself that you’ll do the paper in that time. The reason you should do this is simple. For one, your overestimation might be accurate every now and then. Using this step, you’d be prepared for an assignment that takes a longer time than you thought. Giving yourself extra time also reduces the danger of distractions, lapses of concentration, or any emergencies. This way, you can afford to have some rests while you’re working on a long assignment and not be worried that you won’t complete it.
Sometimes, you might not be all that enthusiastic about an assignment, and that’s ok. You’ll have your fair share of boring papers, long handouts, or hard problems, and you might not even want to do them at all. In these cases, even the most disciplined students can fall behind on the work and struggle to find motivation to complete the assignment. So, how can you find that drive when you want to push work back? Well, if you’ve followed the first two steps, you know it’s due, and you’ve set aside some extended time to work on it. When that time comes, you may want to keep delaying the process, but eventually, you’ll feel some pressure. You’ll know you need to get that work done, and you’ll have enough time to do it. Let that feeling of stress be your motivation to start working, because once you start, it’s way easier to finish. Just starting is half the battle, and by staying focused, you can ride that pressure all the way to the finish line.
I’m writing this section straight off a 30-minute snooze, so do as I say, not as I do. The reason I include this step is because sleep is the one thing that can drain all of your momentum. Sleep is like that devil on your shoulder, trying to draw you away from your work. If you’re working late on a very long assignment, sleep can seem very enticing. Maybe you could just take a quick, 15-30 nap, and wake up newly energized, right? Wrong. I’ve learned from many of my late-night work binges that this strategy will seal your fate. You may ask, what are some alternatives to sleep? There are many. Get up and move, turn on some lights, get a snack/drink (coffee in extreme situations), or switch workplaces for a change in scenery. If you can avoid the calling of sleep, you’re home free.
At this point in the process of last-minute working, all you have to do is keep your eyes on the prize. Ride the pressure, and avoid distractions. For the highest chance of success, I’d suggest turning off your phone, turning on some lights, and working in a quiet area. Reward yourself whenever you need a quick break by either getting a drink, a snack, or some exercise. Always be aware of how much time you have and how much work you still have left to do. This will help you plan your stretches of work and quick breaks. Remember, you gave yourself more time than you needed, so the breaks shouldn’t be a problem. Once you’re done, the burden of unfinished work will be lifted, and you can finally enjoy a feeling of relief. Working efficiently under pressure is a skill, and knowing these tips will help you as you go through second semester.