Whether you are a student, a worker, or a professional writer, you have one thing in common: deadlines.
For most people, even knowing about a deadline far in advance doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to get it done on time (or without a lot of last-minute panic and anxiety).
This is a shame because, with just a few switches in process and mindset, you can beat your deadlines and complete your work intentionally and with enjoyment.
If you need some help turning in your writing assignments on time, here are four tips for meeting a writing deadline.
1. Set a manageable timeline.
No matter when your deadline is, the only way you are going to get it done in time is by putting into place a manageable timeline that ensures you will stay on track. If it is far into the future, then take the time to break the task down into feasible bite-sized chunks and set up frequent reminders.
When there is still plenty of time to get it done, the most common thing that people do is to put off the task and leave it until the last minute. But no one truly enjoys last-minute panic, so it is better to divide the work out evenly across the period.
- If you have about a couple of months to complete your essay writing, set yourself a monthly goal by taking the full number of pieces you need to write and dividing that number by how many months you have until your deadline. Then you will have your monthly goal, which can be incorporated into your weekly plans and to-do lists.
- If you don’t have much time, then it is time to prioritize seriously. As you only have so many hours in the day (and even fewer in which you can be productive), you need to be honest with yourself about what can be accomplished. Look through the rest of your tasks and responsibilities and identify what can be pushed to the side until it is done.
Obviously, this is not the ideal scenario, but hopefully, the lessons you will learn will encourage you to become a bit more proactive in getting started and setting up your schedule in the future.
Whatever your timeline may be, by coming up with a concrete plan, you are far more likely to stay motivated and avoid falling into the trap of procrastination due to feeling overwhelmed. If it helps you to see it visually, consider printing out the plan and putting it up somewhere where you have to look at it regularly.
2. Figure out where you need assistance.
Depending on the writing project, there may be a chance that you are facing roadblocks precisely because you need some extra assistance. For example, if it is a school writing assignment, you might need to speak with a teacher or search for some of the best assignment help.
Often, procrastination occurs when you don’t feel like you have the necessary tools or expertise to handle the task in front of you.
For other types of pieces, if you are facing the terrifying “writer’s block,” then the best thing for you to do is to sit down with your laptop and start brainstorming the who, what and why. In other words, who are you writing for? What are you writing about? Why are you writing this piece?
Generally, answering these questions will not only get your brain gears turning, but they will also ensure that you are maintaining the initial purpose of the piece.
3. Just write. Edit later.
This tip works, regardless of whether your deadline is in a year or in a couple of hours. In fact, it is the strategy that you should always take when starting to write something. Write, write again, and then write some more. Never try to compose and edit simultaneously — this will only lead to you spending hours on the opening paragraph and not getting much further.
While you may think that writing and editing at the same time is an efficient way to multi-task, the fact of the matter is that they are two entirely separate tasks that require different parts of your brain. By opting to switch between the two, you are slowing down your brain processes and forcing them to reset continually.
The best solution is to keep writing until you have the required amount of words. Then, and only then, should you switch to editing mode. Editing words that are already on the page is a lot easier than producing those words in the first place. Also, if you have an upcoming deadline, it is a lot better to write while you are feeling awake and refreshed as it is more challenging to write while tired than it is to edit.
After all, the actual writing is the hardest part. So once you have got that out of the way, you are more likely to be in a position to accomplish everything else that needs to be completed.
4. Clear your space, your brain, and your calendar.
There is nothing more detrimental to anyone who is trying to write than a messy space surrounding them. When it is time to get down to business and write, you want your space to be as clutter-free as possible. Move everything off the desk and hide any distractions (that includes your smartphone), turn off your laptop notifications, and put away anything else that may lead you astray. Distractions love to bother writers, so reduce the likelihood of finding yourself falling into that trap.
Clearing your space and calendar helps you free your brain so that you can concentrate on getting the piece finished. Those distractions will be there again, waiting for you, when you receive your next assignment. Just don’t let them ruin this one.
What processes do you have in place to ensure you meet your deadlines? If you aren’t very good at sticking to them, what are the specific challenges that hinder you from making them? Do you have any tips and tricks to share with other writers? Let us know in the comments below!