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Student Life: Learn to manage deadlines

Written by Fanny Allart
Published date 28 October 2019

Most students are now approaching deadline season. For some of you, it will be your first university assignments, and for others it might be the start of a higher level, more difficult assignments. Either way, deadlines are usually a source of stress among students. Here are some advice for managing this time productively and healthily.

Start early

You should take time to develop your knowledge of the subject and read on the topic. Producing a first draft, of an essay or a project, is a way to get your ideas out, so you can give them shape later. A first draft "provides the writer with a chance to meld their thoughts together and to further develop their ideas" (University of Iowa). Even Jack Kerouac’s 120ft scroll of On the Road was a second draft, it’s important to edit your work and polish it if you want the best results.

Take a break

When you start early, you can allow yourself to take the time you require on your work. It’s important to take breaks and let your brain breathe. A first draft is not perfect and requires editing, but you can’t do this all at once. The Writing Cooperative recommends taking break to leave the ‘creative mode’ and get into an ‘editing mode’, which will allow you to spot the spelling mistakes and awkward phrasing.

Have a healthy lifestyle

Keep a healthy lifestyle while studying. Sometimes students stay in the library or in their room all day to study, and that’s not the healthiest way to approach your deadlines. You should take time for your meals, stay hydrated and get some fresh air. It’s important to remain in a healthy mentally and physically when you are approaching deadlines.

Talk to someone

A healthy lifestyle also includes socialising and talking to your friends. Deadlines can be scary and stressful and it’s likely your friends and classmates feel the same way. Jess Baker, business psychologist and women's leadership recommends discussing how you feel:

We tend to believe we are they only ones feeling this way, and don't want be labelled as the ‘sensitive’ or ‘stressed’ person who can’t cope. But speaking to a trusted friend, colleague or coach can help relieve your tension.

Know your magic hour

We are all different and while some may be early birds, others are night owls. There’s not one better than the other, but you do need to know when is your most productive hour. Some might be very energetic after a workout in the morning, or after class while still in a ‘study mode’. What is important is that you find the time when you are most productive and take advantage of it.

All-nighters are unhealthy and counterproductive 

Although many students often talk about ‘all-nighters’ nearer to the deadline, they are actually counterproductive, and very unhealthy. Professor David Earnest explains:

Sleep deprivation's effect on working memory is staggering. Your brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep deprivation.

The human body requires around seven to eight hours of sleep at night to function normally. Staying up all night will deprive your brain from its usual energy and lead to decreased performance and memory. All-nighters can be easily avoided with an early start on your assignments.

If you think you need more support during this time, reach out to UAL's Academic Support.

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