Read on to see if you're making any of the following six mistakes that hamper your industriousness, creativity, and most importantly, your ability to get s$&! done on time.
1. You're Overestimating How Hard You're Working
Working hard is difficult to quantify - it's relevant to each individual and to the task at hand. Take into account how long you need to be working vs how long you feel like working (hint: the latter will probably outstrip the first). Working hard means pressing on after the initial LET'S DO THIS! attitude fades.
You need to be working at least TWICE as long as you feel like it.
Sorry, but that's the truth for most assignments. Set concrete goals like "outline entire paper and write introduction," or "write first 2 pages." Then you have earned a break.
2. You Always Work With Others
Well, the library turned into, "It's midnight - let's go get a sandwich at the student center." Which turned into trying to continue studying at the student center. Which turned into her rolling in between 3 or 4 am and wondering why her homework took her so frickin' long.
Sometimes group work is unavoidable. And I'm not suggesting you cloister yourself away every time you need to study. But not all studying needs to be a social event. There are some assignments where you need to be left alone to focus.
If you crave being around people when working, go to a populated place but wear headphones. The first floor of a library or dorm study rooms are good places to be around people during solo working sessions.
3. You Always Work Alone
I feel you. Just thinking about the words "group project" makes my face pucker up in disgust. I was the Control Freak who needed to be involved in every aspect of an assignment, whether it was my part or not, so relinquishing my right to quality control sent me into all sorts of conniptions and hives.
But, hey, guess what? It turns out lots of other people also care about their grades and are interested in brainstorming, sharing information, and swapping creative studying techniques.
There was more than one exam where I knew the answer to a question not because of something from my own notes, but rather, remembering what a classmate of mine had said during a group study session.
4. You Abandon Ship At The First Bump
I can't do it.
I'll never finish this on time.
I don't understand the readings so what's the point of finishing them?
Do the best you can, make notes where you are getting lost, and set up a meeting with the professor or TA to help you catch up. Consider reaching out to a classmate in the meantime to help you get through the assignment.
5. You're Distracting Yourself
Oh no. You just fell into a Wiki-hole.
We've all done it, but when it comes down to it, you don't NEED Facebook, Wikipedia, Pandora, your cellphone - nothing - none of it - when trying to get through an assignment.
This study reports that 80% of undergraduates find that their laptops, tablets, and smartphones interfere with their learning, and of that number, an additional 1/4 admit that their grades have suffered as a result.
Be honest with yourself about what tools you actually need to get an assignment done. In most cases it will be a book, a highlighter, and a notebook, or if using a computer, Word and any relevant scholarly web resources. That's it.
6. You're Missing the Big Picture
Sure. You can. But what happens the next time an inconvenient little task pops up? Put enough reading and homework over time and you'll find yourself woefully unprepared to participate in class discussions, perform well on pop quizzes, and far behind when studying for exams.
All those little assignments over time add up to a much larger point - your classroom performance, your grade for the course, your overall GPA. Be careful how much permission you give yourself to dismiss assignments as unimportant or negligible.
The best thing you can do is experiment with your optimal learning styles and environment, so that you can minimize your work input for maximum output.