Surviving the Deadline Season.

As a University student, we are all under a strong pressure to perform. Essay deadlines approach, sometimes in more than one subject at the same time, demanding the student’s full attention. This moment of intense stress is challenging to face, but if there is something that I have learned in my three years at University, it is that you are ALWAYS better safe than sorry. But it is easy to say this, another thing is to actually do it. Don’t worry, I got you covered, and I am super happy to share with you my productivity secrets!

The first step to make sure you start organising your process in time to arrive prepared for the exam or deadline you have in front of you is to plan. The first thing you have to determine is how much time you will need to successfully  write your essay or prepare for an exam without you stressing out about  it. To do this I usually start from the first week of the school year, and yes as crazy as it sounds, this saves me from stress. You will have to see when your deadlines fall, estimating how much time will take you to complete your task in time without stress. For me this process takes about 4 weeks, including thorough research, essay planning, discussing the essay plan with a teacher, draft writing and endless amounts of editing, plus accurate formality edits. My necessary time might sound a lot to some people, and little to others, but we are not here to judge anyone, everyone knows how much they take to complete a task to the best of their abilities without anxiety. 

Now that we have decided on the amount we need to complete our school tasks, we have to plan out how to stick to that time without procrastinating on it. I use two bullet proof methods that help me to visualize the time I have before a deadline: google calendar and a bullet Journal. Google Calendar is a super practical visualization method that helps you to block out amounts of time color coding them according to the activity. The University Timetable has a link that you can add to your calendar, helping you to see when your lessons are, letting you see how many hours you can use before and after. For me it is a golden opportunity to time-block every single one of my activities, including leisure time. The bullet journal is more effective to write down daily and weekly to-do lists, keeping you accountable on a daily basis on the main tasks you have to complete. 

Once you have planned out your time before a deadline, it is time to stick to it. If you have been a bit generous with the amount of hours you will need, this is in my opinion better than assuming you will just need three days and then ending up the night before the deadline crushed by anxiety. To stick to my personal calendar I have several methods, the first one is to create personal deadlines for your projects, making them feel closer to you. A second very effective method to make sure to stick to your deadlines is to create routines that work for you, where you set a time to work on your projects that you are comfortable with. I personally work a lot better in the morning and try to wake up consistently at 7A.M., using my precious morning time to crack on with work, and leaving my evenings to relax. 

Even if you choose to implement every one of these techniques, it is very normal to feel the last week before deadlines or exams as the most stressful. However, if you prepare yourself in advance, you have nothing to worry about. Starting beforehand will also prevent you from sending all nighters in the library with your brain fuming under the effort and pressure he is under. However, if I have not convinced you that preparation is the key to a more relaxed approach to life, give it a try, maybe during a less stressful period, try giving a project a few more days in addition to the ones you would normally give it and see how it works.

— Lisa Greghi

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