Whether you’ve got a few days or a few months to hand something in, there’s always enough time to get creative and produce quality work.
But it’s often so difficult to shine? Life gets in the way, there’s so much other stuff to distract you, simply starting a project is a pain, the little perfectionist in you has niggling doubts, etc., etc.
Let’s check out some of the ways you can shove those distractions and problems out of the way:
- Focus on the work in hand – It’s a willpower thing (or Inner Slacker thing). There’s so much going on around you that it’s insanely difficult to ignore it. But when you clear nearby distractions, get others out of the way, and isolate yourself from interruption and noise, it doesn’t take long before the work gets a lot easier to deal with. Honest! 🙂
- Remember that the hardest part is the start – When it feels like hell even starting the work, you then wonder how horrible it’s going to be when you actually get on with it. Rest assured, once you have the courage to get on with it, everything else comes naturally. The first hurdle is the biggest one. The rest of the way isn’t so bad.
- Move on when you’re stuck – You’re bound to face difficulties in your study. There are times when something doesn’t sound right, or you struggle to find a way of backing up a point. Don’t let it hold you up! When you face a block, make a note of it and come back to it later. Much better to get everything else out of the way and work on the annoyances later. You’ll be more focused on those aspects in isolation anyway.
- Don’t let your Internal Editor get in the way – Another thing that holds us up is our wish to get it right FIRST TIME. It’s like our brain hasn’t heard of ‘rough drafts’! The editing process should come later, after you’ve got everything else out in the open. The longer you agonise over a word or the structure of the coursework, the further away you get from getting the work done. Edit later. Piece everything together later. Your Internal Editor can wait!
- Don’t do it all in one session – Students who leave an essay to the last minute end up having to do everything in one go. It’s one of the worst ways of working, but last-minute essay writing is common. Start as soon as possible on your coursework and complete it over time. Short sessions are less daunting and help you target specific areas of your work each time. If you genuinely work better in much longer sessions, remember to take regular breaks from the study. And do the work as soon as you can…don’t leave it until the day before, when it’s stressful and when you’re in danger of running out of time.
- Mix it up! – Nobody else can tell you how to put your work together. Do you like to write the Conclusion first? If so, do it first! Does the Introduction come naturally to you when it’s the last part of the creative process? Is so, do it last! Work to the order that works best for you.
- If in doubt, get help – Don’t feel bad when you don’t understand what’s required. If a question doesn’t make sense or if you can’t get your head around a concept, your tutors should be happy to help. Make sure you know what you want to ask and what help you’re looking for and, armed with this information, ask away.
- Your answer is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – Move away from thinking about the ‘right’ answer. What you’re trying to do is support an argument, explain a function, analyse a concept, and so on. Critical thinking is not black or white. It’s all about the shades of grey.
- Stop fearing the worst – The work you do is private at first. Nobody is looking over your shoulder. Well, they shouldn’t be anyway. So it doesn’t matter what you write down and it doesn’t need to be perfect. There’s no need to panic about it; just get all your thoughts and quotes and ideas and workings and illustrations out in the open. Even if loads of the output is rubbish, you’ll have all the good stuff sorted too. Take the good stuff and shape it into something big. You don’t have to tell anyone else about the other rubbish you put out. That’s your own little secret. It’s the quality stuff that makes you the hero…
These are just some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. What do YOU do to get those ideas from your head to the page?