Second week of school started today and I feel like I’m already behind my deadlines.
You know that feeling at beginning a new semester, or a new year and saying, “this year/semester will be the one, this is the good one” …well basically that’s me at the beginning of every academic period for the past 25 years. Sometimes it is a good semester sometimes I just want to be over with it and never speak about it again.
And you know what? The problem are the deadlines (at least for me). It is said that “the best inspiration is a deadline” and I agree at some extent, I’m incredibly good at working under a hard deadline but the reality is that I developed this skill because I tend to underestimate the time that I need for a specific task. This is why I have been challenging myself to organize in a better way and use tools to know how much time it takes me to work on a project or an assignment (like this one).
Let’s face it, everyone has experienced at least once the panic followed by squeezing a week’s worth of work into one night. No matter what you study and at what level you are…deadlines are coming!
In my experience, this are the stages for tackling a deadline.
Stage 1: The “initial excitement”.
The excitement of starting something new is basically the first thing in the list. Humans are curious by nature, hence when someone introduce us to an assignment, a task, or a challenge the first thing we do is to show interest and go over and over the problem to tackle it as fast and in the smartest way as possible. Someone gives you homework, off course the first thing you want to do is to be over with it as soon as possible.
In my case this stage is rather short, the excitement disappears as soon as I realize that the assignment will take quite some effort and time. The following feeling in the list is: “I got this under control”.
Stage 2: “Everything is under control”.
Lectures end, and you just head home with a print out of the assignment buried in the deepest part of your backpack not worrying too much about the deadline because “there is plenty of time to work on it and write the report”. Let me tell you something…time is never enough. It sounds super easy, and if someone knows about underestimating deadlines that’s me. I mean… honestly, I’m a pro at miscalculating the time that it takes to finish any schoolwork and I end up leaving everything for the last days.
Stage 3: PANIC!
This is the stage when realization comes. Things didn’t go the way they were supposed to go and time now is flying in front of your eyes as you try to settle down and be extra efficient to finish in time. Software crashes, unsaved reports, slow computers, and network failure to name a few of the potential things that can go wrong. Panicking is the stage where I get 70% percent of the work done probably. It is the stage that seems to never end although the time flies. It is the stage where I get super pissed at myself and vow to start ahead the next time.
Stage 4: “The submission”.
At the end, everything is ok. The report is submitted and all the stress is now in the past. Yet, there is still a feeling in this stage that I’ve felt before. That feeling you get the morning after a long night partying… that feeling is “I’m not doing this again in my life”. Probably a few of you might relate to that sensation.
Now that my last year as a master’s student is starting. I realize that this is the beginning of the end as my life as a student. Maybe this is the academic year where I will be ahead of all my deadlines. Maybe not.