by Maddi Demaree
Part 1: Start Early and Start Often
Well, you’ve made it through syllabus week, congratulations! The good news: you won’t have to hear the same spiel about attendance again for another seven months. The bad news: you probably received at least a couple long-term writing assignments. Especially in upper-level classes, these papers are ubiquitous. Now, flash forward to week 13. You’ve known about this assignment since the beginning of the term, but all of a sudden you only have five days to complete something that should have taken you all semester. Is it possible to avoid such a troubling fate as this?
Yes! The best way to avoid the desperate eleventh-hour cram session is to do something I like to call “start early and start often.” If a professor assigns something to you at the beginning of the semester that is due towards the end that means they you want you to be working on it all semester – starting now! The earlier you start, the better it will be. I have a few techniques I use to motivate myself to work on assignments even if their due date feels far away.
- Begin your work on this assignment NOW. No seriously, right now.
- Don’t just look at the assignment one time today and then remember over Spring Break that you should have been working on it this whole time – putting focused effort (even if it’s not for long periods of time) will ease your burden later in the semester.
- Put in on your calendar.
Scheduling time into your day or week to work specifically on an assignment will help make working on it a habit. If you have a weekly calendar, schedule in 30 minutes every couple days to sit down and work exclusively on that project.
- Have someone help you stay accountable.
Tell a friend, roommate, or even your RCE about your goal to work a least a bit on this project each week. Ask them to check in with you at the end of the week to see if you worked on the project. Sometimes, just telling other people about goals makes us more accountable about working on them.
Stay tuned for some tips if you just don’t know how to start that long-term assignment.
Maddi Demaree is a junior majoring in education and political science. Last spring she traveled on the Finland Abroad.