As much as you plan and work to avoid time crunches, they will come. Your car will break down, your alarm clock will malfunction, or your computer will crash.
Just when you think you are prepared for every possibility, the impossible will hit you. Thankfully, even the worst setback or temporary defeat does not necessitate ultimate surrender.
Apply these principles to recover from the worst and get back ahead.
1. Minimum Effective Dose
After you have assessed the problem, find the minimum effective dose (MED) that will provide the solution. Often used in a medical context, MED refers to the medicinal dose or procedure that will do the most good in the least amount of time.
Perhaps that ten page, triple edited essay that you lost on your crashed hard drive would have earned you an A+, but can you possibly meet the basic requirements with a three page, once edited version?
We always want to do a task as well as possible, but during a time crunch that simply isn’t possible. Do what you can in the time that you have.
2. Break it down
If the task before you seems overwhelmingly impossible, break it down into more manageable steps.
As the old joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time. ” Rather than trying to swallow the entire elephant in one giant gulp, do it in manageable steps.
The overall task might seem impossibly large, but you would be amazed how quickly the individual pieces of that assignment can be completed.
3. Wake up early
If you have a couple days before the deadline, try waking up early.
Traditionally, college students are known for pulling all-nighters to finish their assignments and survive a time crunch, but that probably is not the best method for you. Although it may sound exciting, staying up all night to finish a task will probably not actually be the fastest way for you to get it done.
On the contrary, you will probably accomplish more by getting a good night’s rest and waking up early to give the task your full concentration.
4. Take breaks
As the deadline looms over you, it can be tempting to simply put your head down and push forward. By taking breaks, however, you can clear your mind, assess the current progress, and resume the task with renewed energy and focus.
Instead of simply pushing harder against a brick wall, you can take a moment to look for a good path around or over the wall.
Studies have shown that students concentrate best in thirty minute study increments. For twenty-five minutes, you can work on your study or assignment. At that point, you productivity will start to go down quickly, so you take a five minute break to walk around the block, grab a bit of sleep, or simply read a unrelated book. Now, with renewed focus you can return to your original task.
5. Do the worst first
The only thing worse than a difficult task is a procrastinated and difficult task.
Although it will be tempting to put off the more painful parts of a project until the end, you will actually be more productive if you do them first. Just be careful to not get so bogged down in that part of the project that you lose track of time.