Written by Aradhita Saraf (Weloquent)
I had just been presented with my first assignment for an English class in college. As usual, to start with, I checked the deadline. Since it was 3 weeks from that day, I dug that assignment sheet under a pile of other projects I had due earlier.
I used to be proud when I told my friend that I could only work under pressure - as if I was defining a quirk that was unique to me. Only over the years did I realize that meeting deadlines comfortably was a universal problem. However, that one assignment fixed it for me for the rest of my life.
I pulled out the assignment sheet at around 6 pm - the evening before the due date. I was in for a shock. Instead of one paper, the professor wanted three progressive drafts leading up to the paper. I later learnt that English classes in my university were more about the process and less about the final paper. The professor had advised writing one draft per week, thinking about ways of improving, and then progressing to the next draft. Even if I pulled an all nighter, it was impossible to submit the deliverables by the morning.
With the “F” I received on that paper, I also learnt a lesson of a lifetime: Deadlines mark the end of a journey, not the start of one.
The following are simple ways in which we can meet deadlines comfortably while making the most of the time leading up to them:-
Work in Steps
Even if your assignment does not require you to prepare drafts before your submission, you should consider giving it a thought. If for instance you have an exam two weeks from now, chart out a schedule where you study each chapter and self-examine your study, before you move on to the next chapter. Similarly with projects, instead of doing the researching, writing, designing, and presentation practice all in one evening, try dividing your time into bite-sized slots.
Working under pressure and all at once, might get the work done faster, but impacts the quality of your work produced greatly. Treat your deadline as the last date you can keep improving your work by, not the last date you can start working by. Remember, the more layers, reviews, drafts you give your work, the more it will have time to shine!
Build a Schedule
We often get overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done - History project, Math exam, Physics lab experiments, and English presentation - all for one week. However, if we started working towards the completion of each of these projects the day they were assigned to us, we’d be quite free the week they were due.
Use a diary or a chart to divide your working day into thirty minute slots, and instead of spending large chunks of time studying the same subject- spend not more than two/four thirty minute slots towards one discipline. Self-assign mini deadlines that lead up to the main one - and mark your progress - so that the day before your submission, you can revise your notes, take some time off and clear your head. What a stark-contrast to a puffy eyed, sleep-deprived, stressed, nervous and under-prepared earlier you.
Enjoy the Process
I know most of us study for the results or the grades, but think of how much more enjoyable studying could be if you treated your books like a Netflix series- where each chapter was an episode in itself.
Our minds are powerful, but they can easily be tricked into a make-believe story. So tell yourselves, you are only allowed - say one chapter of your school book a day, and you will soon find yourself looking forward to the next one. Instead of memorizing the pages, try to understand the characters, the plot, the message, the moral of the story. Switch to another subject in a moment of suspense, and allow yourself time to enjoy the process instead of merely working towards the short-lived result.
Deadlines aren’t given to you to make your life harder, and more stressful - but so that you can plan ahead, organize your calendar and test uniformly with all your other classmates.
With that, we wish you buckets of good luck for your on-going exams. Try to treat them as a self-challenge or a bonus quiz of how well you’ve prepared or how much you’ve enjoyed your favourite Netflix series.