Deadlines can be challenging and stressful in the best of circumstances- especially when your assignments are all due in the same week! We spoke to education expert Richard Evans, founder of The Profs, who outlines 7 ways to reduce deadline panic and ensure effective time management.
- Do time estimates of all key tasks
Deadlines can become troubling when you overestimate how much time you need to complete a task. If it’s too easy, you may procrastinate and put the task off. Then all of a sudden you have worked too slowly and are up against a deadline. On the other hand, if the task is difficult or the deadline is too short, you may feel stressed about completing it from the moment it is assigned. To reduce panic and anxiety, simply assign a time estimate to each task. This way, you will be able to determine how realistic a deadline might be and how long it will take to accomplish it.
- Break large projects down into tasks
Bigger assignments can easily feel overwhelming and too complex to tackle. By breaking them down into more approachable and doable sections, it reduces stress and the propensity to procrastinate. With specific goals in mind, you will work better and be more persistent with the task you need to complete. Identify smaller tasks and set achievable milestones to reach. Ensure you determine a realistic timeframe for each task and follow this schedule to keep to the time limit.
- Prioritise your tasks
Once you have created a realistic schedule, know how much time you’ve allocated to each task and divided your project into smaller sub-sections, you need a plan to tackle them. Project prioritisation is a useful skill that will help you throughout your life. It creates strategic goals, clears all doubts when tackling a task from scratch, and builds an execution mindset. Once you have prioritised your projects, start working! Only by doing tasks will you find out what’s missing from your prioritisation plan.
- Understand your productivity rhythms
Sometimes an hour is enough to blaze through a heavy task, and other times all you can manage is a light task after a few hours work. Productivity rhythms are when we experience heightened energy and focus, making it the optimal time to complete more arduous tasks. When you are aware of the time of day you’re most efficient, you can start building your daily to-do lists around it. Perhaps you have ‘early morning brain’, in which case try starting your routine an hour earlier, or maybe you work better in the evening. Schedule the items that require the most focus at your most productive time of the day.
- Get the right amount of sleep
Consistently getting quality sleep will allow you to stay focused, improve concentration and academic performance. A good night’s sleep is like removing all the unneeded files from your laptop, so you have storage for more important files. If you do not get enough sleep, you are reducing your cognitive performance and learning potential. Sleep deprivation can be problematic as it can lead to an inability to concentrate, impaired mood and mental health issues. When winding down for bed, avoid screen use and sleep in a dark, quiet room. Keep to a regular sleep-wake cycle and try avoiding heavy meals and exercise 3 hours before bedtime.
- Take social media breaks
We go on social media for all the right reasons, but we can stay on it for the wrong ones. If you find yourself getting lost in the social media rabbit hole, it is time to manage this distraction. In this technological age, it is unrealistic to advise completely ditching social media when you’re working towards deadlines. Especially because working towards deadlines can last months. Therefore, integrate social media breaks into your schedule so you don’t feel out of touch, and leave your phone out of reach during study time. Disable notifications or put your phone on Do Not Disturb so your deadlines have your complete focus.
- Negotiate a more realistic due date
Sometimes unforeseen circumstances occur and then it is not always possible to stick to the deadline. Whilst negotiating a more realistic due date or applying for extenuating circumstances can feel intimidating, it is better to get more time for a project instead of providing substandard work. If you have to submit an application, consider whether you are eligible to apply, gather the relevant evidence and wait for approval. Talk to your personal tutor or academic hive team to determine whether this is the best course of action for your particular circumstances.
This piece was brought to you by https://www.theprofs.co.uk/