Worry about meeting deadlines can be a cause of stress for students. Your modules will have a mixture of assessed and non-assessed work due in at different points during the semester, and you might find that work for different modules has to be handed in simultaneously. Planning ahead can alert you to this, and help you to hand in on time.

The way that you plan your time and manage your work is unique to you, and we’re all different in how we get down to work. It’s worth thinking about what kind of study habits you have, as some of these could lead to trouble further down the line.

“I’m a last minute person.”

If you’ve ever said this about yourself, take a moment to think about why this might be. Are you procrastinating? Do you put work to one side if it looks too difficult? Have you always managed to get something in on time even if it wasn’t perfect? Do you struggle to feel motivated until you’re panicking?
Last minute people may experience some of the thoughts and problems above, but if you don’t tackle these, you will find that getting down to work just before the deadline won’t work well for you at University.
Strategies to help:

  1. If you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing, or have concerns about the work, ask for help early on. It might also benefit you to ask for help in person rather than by email. Face-to-face it’s easier to ask clarifying questions, and you’ll get a richer discussion than via email.
  2. Make a project plan for each of your assessments early on. You may need to adapt this later, but at least you’ve set out what needs to be done and thought about when each stage should be completed. You can use Gantt charts, spreadsheets or a simple Word document to help you to project manage your work.
  3. Plan backwards from your deadline and put each one into your diary/calendar. Wall planners can be particularly good to get an overview of what’s coming up in the short, medium and long term.
  4. Prone to writer’s block? Get something, anything, down on paper as soon as possible. Some people keep small notebooks to jot ideas down in which can then be written up into something more substantial later on. This is great if you’re the kind of person who suddenly gets an idea over coffee and then needs to capture it before it floats away!
  5. Struggling for motivation? Some people just don’t feel like working until panic sets in, but this is a really bad move. Our advice about project plans is doubly true for anyone who feels like this, and you may need to set yourself smaller, more frequent deadlines to complete parts of the work over a longer period. This is exactly how you’ll need to work in order to write your dissertation, so getting practice in now is an excellent strategy.

Finally, the big problem with missing deadlines, is that it becomes much harder to catch up in the long term. Everyone has problems that sometimes mean asking for an extension, but if you’re asking for multiple extensions, a chat with your personal tutor is advisable to identify how you can get back on track, and what’s going wrong.

Remember that Skills@Library are also here to help, and you can request a confidential 1-to-1 appointment with a Learning Advisor to chat through your study habits too.