1 Noting your deadlines
When you get an assignment, note down the deadlines. Some people use a calendar app on their phone. My preference is a paper year planner, for two reasons. Firstly, I can see all the deadlines clearly. Secondly – and this is crucial for planning – I can see the deadlines in relation to each other. I keep this year planner exclusively for deadlines because I don’t want my deadlines muddled up with social arrangements and laundry day. If your deadline calendar isn’t cluttered, you focus better on the deadlines themselves.
2 Create false deadlines
Starting university is the perfect opportunity to break poor writing habits, for example, being a right-up-to-the-wire deadline scrambler. Scramblers have little time for editing and often lose marks unnecessarily. If you’re a scrambler, try moving your assignment deadlines forward by a few days. Stick to your deadline for writing and use the extra days to edit. This technique will pay off throughout your university career and could even boost your final degree classification.
3 Resist extensions
I went to university as a mature student with three small children. On Day One I made a vow: unless the sky had fallen in, I would never ask for an extension. Extensions are tempting but they seldom resolve a problem, and the assignment’s still hovering. When tempted, I tried using 30-minute slots to focus on particular aspects of an assignment, such as researching one theme; sketching out a plan; drafting one paragraph. It worked for me. I graduated extension-free. It could work for you.
Use a Gantt chart to plan chunks of time to work on your assignment, making sure you factor in your other commitments.
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Critical thinking is a skill you already have, put to work in a new environment. It gets easier with practice.