Left an assignment to the last minute? It’s all too easy to do. The temptations of “just one more episode…” on Netflix or “go on, just one more pint…” at the pub can be hard to turn down, but suddenly the deadline is looming.
Don’t worry just yet. You can do this! Here are our top tips for procrastinators:
1) Choose your topic carefully
When you’ve only got a day or two to write a full assignment, you don’t have time to do lots of research. The key is to think strategically: what do you know most about? Is there a topic that you feel strongly about? Go through your options and brainstorm a few possible approaches you could take. It can be nerve-wracking enough going against the clock, so don’t try and learn an entirely new subject in a short space of time – stick to something you feel confident about.
2) Managing your reading
Once you’ve chosen your topic, think about what sources you can draw from. Go through your lecture notes and your resource list, as that’s the best springboard for your reading. If you want to go beyond those core texts, browse the bibliographies of any books or journal articles that you’ve found particularly useful – this is a great way of discovering relevant further reading.
You can also search the Library, of course. To find the best results, go back to your topic and think about your focus. Write a list of possible synonyms as you might get very different results. “Low carb”, for example, will pick up popular cookbooks, while “ketogenesis” is more likely to pick up academic articles. Are there any terms in your topic that might have multiple meanings, and how can you clarify that in your search?
3) Reference as you go
It’s easy to try and rush through a bunch of articles so you can start writing, but there’s no worse feeling than finding the perfect quote and not knowing where you pulled it from. By referencing as you go, your notes will be clearer and it will make pulling your bibliography together much less tricky. Not sure how to reference? Check out our guides here or get extra guidance from Cite Them Right Online.
4) Study happy!
Once you’ve decided on a topic and got some reading under your belt, it’s time to crack on with your writing. Even if you’ve got a limited amount of time before your deadline, pace yourself and don’t panic. Make sure you keep hydrated, stay calm and take regular breaks. The best kind of breaks involve getting up from your seat and going for a walk – getting your blood pumping again will boost your concentration as well as giving your eyes a rest from the computer screen.
If you’re finding it hard to focus, there are apps or browser extensions that disable internet use for specific amounts of time. Give yourself some milestones and then reward yourself to stay motivated. Treat yourself to a latte with a friend once you’ve hit 500 words, or maybe watch one episode of your favourite programme at 1500 words. Whatever works for you – just keep your eyes on the prize and make sure you finish that assignment.
5) Try to avoid this situation in the future…
Easier said than done, I know! Read Reffie the raptor’s time managing tips to stay on top of your work.