College deadlines

The Five Secrets to Beating College Deadlines

Juggling exams, assignments, and classes, not to mention any extracurriculars, can be a daunting task for even the brightest student. For the rest of us, we spend much of our college careers worrying about missing a deadline or – if the nightmare comes to life – trying to recover from a missed deadline.

Thankfully, with a little forethought and planning, even the busiest student can vastly decrease the chance of missing a deadline.

1. Don’’t Overcommit

In our modern world, people who do “everything” are often looked up to as paragons of productivity. In the long-term, however, the real achievers are those who focus on a few things at a time. In what Cal Newport describes as “serial accomplishments”, elite students do one thing at a time rather than many things at once.

When planning your next semester, definitely make it challenging… but don’t make it impossible.

2. Document… Repeatedly

As you move through your various activities, take the time to keep a complete record of all your deadlines and commitments. Depending on your personal style, this might mean writing it on physical paper – such as a calendar or planner – or it might mean recording it in a computer application – such as Google calendar or Remember The Milk.

For extra security, use a couple of methods. Perhaps your planner would record your target dates, while Google calendar will email you when there is still time for an all-nighter.

3. Plan To Finish Early

Rather than waiting until the last minute, set aside enough time to finish the assignment as soon as you get it. Not only does this give you more buffer time, but the success of finishing early will also give your willpower a boost that will help you do even better next time.

If you are like me and can’t remember the last time you finished a project more than twelve hours before the deadline, try to find a study partner who will hold you accountable.

4. Anticipate Problems

Whatever you do, expect something to go wrong. The library will close, the wireless will crash, your friends will invite you to a day in the park, or the dorms will burn down. As an elite student, you need to expect the unexpected… and still meet your deadline.
Give yourself enough time to get the project completed even when the world comes crashing down around your ears.

5. Be Ready With Plan B

But what happens when you have two weeks of work and one night to finish?

It’s time for Plan B. Following the 80/20 rule, quickly analyze the best way to spend your time and focus on getting the best possible result. Perhaps you will not have the best essay in your class, but you can likely avoid failing. Determine, if possible, what your professor wants most and do your best to supply that.


Following this simple process will take very little time while drastically reducing stress. With the reduction of stress, you will be able to focus more fully which will lead to more accomplishments and even less stress in a spiral of success.

How do you remember deadlines?