Managing your deadlines

As the final semester of the year heads for a close, deadlines start to come thick and fast. This can often be overwhelming and challenging, however here are a few ways in which you can feel more at ease and manage assessments effectively.

Plan ahead

Perhaps leaving things until the last minute seems like a good idea and is something we can all be guilty of, but it’s not always the best method. At the moment, when things are beginning to open, it might be especially easy to put the assignment at the back of your mind. However, planning an outline early might mean that you can both manage the work as well as participate in leisure activities.

Knowing what your assessment is and when your deadlines are is the first step in being well prepared. You can then prepare little things for the deadline such as doing the reading or figuring out how you’ll structure an essay. This ensures that, as the deadline approaches, you feel much more organized and ready to complete the assignment. Often lectures lead towards the assessment, so making good notes during each module can help when it comes to drafting essays or presentations. Essentially, this gives you a point of reference for starting quickly.

Once you are well prepared for your deadlines, the closer you get to them, the less panic you’ll feel because of the head start you have given yourself.

Take time out

Along with making sure you’re well prepared, it is also important to remember to maintain ‘you time’ when things get busy. Activities away from the laptop screen are a great way to maintain a healthy distance between your work and your spare time. It can also act as a way in which you might get an idea for an essay or a project as you’ve given yourself the space to think more clearly and carefully. This can range from walks, meeting friends, or even something as simple as checking the postbox in your accommodation. Breaks are just as valuable as the time you dedicate to working, so make sure that you take them frequently as a form of relief.

Although a deadline might be close, if you manage the time carefully, you’ll remove some of the extra stresses related to the deadline. Something like an essay might be better to tackle in stages rather than trying to complete the whole thing at once. Breaks in between separate the workload to be more manageable and less overwhelming. Of course, this works differently for everybody, so try and work out what best suits you.

Read the brief

The module handbook is your best bet for knowing exactly what you need to do for an assignment. Make sure to familiarise yourself with it before you start, but also throughout so that you complete all of the requirements. It may be helpful to keep a note of each separate assessment for each module so that you don’t get things mixed up. Lecturers are also available within their established office hours to offer answers to questions or worries you might have about a particular assignment.

This is useful as you might get some words of advice that elaborate more on the assessment brief. This links nicely to the point about planning ahead especially when deadlines are fast approaching as it means you’re less likely to make mistakes or miss important parts of the assessment. This is about being well-prepared and an easy step you can take to make sure you are well informed about each deadline and what it entails.

Focus on balance

A key to success when you have a lot of deadlines is to balance them all equally, especially when deadlines come in close succession. They are all just as important as each other so don’t try and spend too much time on one and then neglect the others. It could be handy to arrange a rotation between each assessment which you stick to for the run-up to deadlines. It also helps in terms of having fresh outlooks each time you approach the piece of work, taking a pause to spend time on another task means you don’t use up too much of your mental energy on one thing. This sort of structure can enable you to move onto something else if one thing is proving a challenge at that moment in time. It’s very important to find this balance and a rotation technique is a perfect way to find it!

Deadlines are a difficult challenge for all of us, but there are ways in which you can ease the pressure on yourself. Hopefully, these ideas can give you advice and act as a starting point to find what works for you.