University Writing Center Blog

Posted on September 21st, 2015 in Writing Strategies by Jennifer Mahoney

by Megan Gudeman, Peer Consultant, University Writing Center

School’s finally back in session, which means homework is also hot on its heels. I know I already had a couple multi-page reports that were due the other day, and classes have only just begun. As we all begin to get our syllabuses and look over calendars to see future assignment due dates, this is also the time we most often start to tell ourselves, “Yeah, I’ve got time” and kick back to relax.

But contrary to what Shia LaBeouf would say, DON’T. DO IT.

The race has only just begun. This is the time of year we have the most energy to expend on classwork because most of us have had vacations and time to relax. Right now, our minds are most ready to begin cracking down on the work before us, so while we have this energy, we should go ahead and use it to get a head start on those projects we usually wait until the last minute to complete. Even setting aside a half-hour a day for a writing assignment that’s due in two weeks can be incredibly beneficial. Or, if you’re like me, and you can’t focus your attention for a half-hour straight on a single assignment, breaking up that half-hour into three ten-minute segments a day can allow time for good work, too.

The idea is to make “balancing out work” accessible. One of the key ways to accomplish this is to know what you’re capable of and what you’re not so you don’t stress yourself out. If one of the reasons you most procrastinate is that there’s no clear method on how not to, then take the time to make for yourself a plan on how to work on your project. Divide up your work and assign a half-hour a day to each of the aforementioned divisions. Or, work backwards from the end result: you know you’re going to be writing a paper. What are the pieces of that paper you’re going to need? How can you get them? What do you need to know to write those pieces? Take it little by little if you need to. Remember, the tortoise won the race!

And don’t forget: it’s not weird or awkward to have to ask a friend to hold you accountable if that’s what you need, too. I know I need my sister to pull me away from whatever has my attention in order to focus on my assignments. It may cost me a bit of pride, but having someone else there to pull on my reins when I can’t is an incredible help.

In the end, I should probably revise my original claim. After all, when you feel yourself not wanting to work on your homework, maybe it is wise to listen to Mr. LaBeouf. When we feel ourselves start to lose motivation most, maybe we do need just those three words, “JUST. DO IT”—because when we do, we realize there are very real ways to make working ahead accessible. We just have to figure them out.