We all know how it goes: deadlines creep up on us leading to long nights in the library and subsistence on energy drinks and coffee. And while sometimes the best work we do comes from those 3 am breakthroughs a few nights before a deadline, there is nothing better than submitting an essay in good time and having given it the best possible chance. So, here are three tips for those stubborn 5,000-worders – and how to get to the finish line.
1. Get Motivated
Passing a course seems like an important enough reason to complete an assignment, but more often than not this still doesn’t give the get up and go needed to get it finished. Staring at a blank screen can be difficult, and can make matters worse as the clock ticks away the time until the deadline. What you need is motivation, but how do you get this? Start with a soundtrack of music taken from epic film trailers and video games too see you up with enough gusto to smash through that writer’s block. Research shows that listening to music while doing unfavourable tasks helps us to do them quicker, especially if there are no lyrics to distract. Then, reward yourself at different junctures throughout the assignment for motivation from some positive conditioning.
2. BACK IT UP
Most students would argue that while getting the motivation to start an assignment is difficult, the absolute worst thing to happen is technology failing. Whether this is through forgetting to back up files on the cloud or via email, or by connecting to a wider network in public and being laden with a virus that corrupts the work so far. These problems are common enough, yet can be easily mitigated against. For instance, setting goals for saving your work to multiple locations can help ensure every sentence is backed up, and cloud backup is at the moment the most popular choice, as it's accessible for anywhere and allows for cross-platform functionality. Ensuring you choose a reputable cloud service is key. In addition to allowing for a secure HTTPS connection to its web interface at all times, a reliable, safe cloud backup service will also run a web application firewall to filter out malicious visitors as well as requests such as SQL injections and XSS attacks, so that both data and users are protected. Students are often at risk of cybercrime, so being careful in your choice of backup provider is paramount.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
One of the most difficult aspects of an assignment can be summoning the strength to get started. Sometimes those first words can be the hardest, and once we’re on a track, we can use it to propel us forward to the end. We’ve done our reading and have a coherent argument, but where do we begin? Well, by splitting an entire essay – which can be daunting – up into several manageable chunks, it can see more achievable. Many use the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests working in 25-minute increments and then taking a break. By choosing a line of enquiry per 25 minutes segment, we can solve the problem ‘by papercuts’, instead of facing a huge 5,000 word goliath.
Getting started and then finishing an assignment can be difficult, but there are ways and means – especially with such a wide range of apps and sites on hand – to get through the noise and meet the word count. All it takes is a little push of willpower and then a solid plan – and ensuring that everything you write is saved in multiple places – and assignment writing becomes a walk in the park.
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