Dealing with deadlines

How do you deal with deadlines?

Review the last deadline you had to meet and answer the following questions:

1 In what ways was the deadline helpful to you?

2 In what ways, if any, did it inhibit you?

3 What could you do differently to do yourself more justice on the next one?


For revision for exams it is essential to be aware of your attitude to deadlines, and plan your work accordingly. A key revision skill is in setting yourself intermediate goals to ensure you can meet the target date, and allow you to do the important tasks, rather than always being driven by the urgent ones!. Some students find deadlines very helpful. Others feel increasingly frozen as a deadline approaches, and do better when they can choose within quite broad period when they will complete work.


My experience of working to a deadline is that it increases my anxiety that I will not produce work of a good enough standard, but it is very successful in making this work a higher priority than other demands on my time. I think this is a common experience. Getting the balance of anxiety right is more than just a matter of luck. You need to learn how much pressure is useful to help you get down to what needs to be done; and how to be accepting of your human limits when the pressure is making you unproductive. Each person has their own pattern, and capitalizing on your own will make you more effective and less stressed.


If you are in charge of a deadline, set a realistic one so you can be satisfied with the quality of your product too. If you are not, decide how important it is for you to do a good piece of work, and set realistic time aside to accomplish it!


Any exam process has a performance element , and like the old troopers of the theatre or concert platform or more athletic candidates who are running a marathon, you need to be willing to prepare actively for the event.

The planning which is necessary before an exam includes making decisions about how you will fit preparation into your available time. Then comes the challenge of testing the realism of the plan you have made, to see if you can implement it. At an early stage it is essential to review the plan to see if it is realistic, and if you are keeping to it or not, and if not, how you will revise the plan, or make changes in your commitment to keeping it.


SMART Goals are:

– Specific: Not just ‘ I ought to do 2 hours work tonight’ but ‘Tonight I will cover X topic and identify my gaps in information ready for library time tomorrow’.

– Manageable: A sensible amount for the time and energy you have available

– Adequate/ appropriate: You may set a realistic and manageable goal , but unless you have thought about it to see whether or not it is sufficient it may not be an adequate goal. eg You may set aside 2 hours a week for revision for the last 6 weeks of your course, and keep to this but for most year long courses this is unlikely to be adequate.

– Realistic: Will what you do be sufficient to cover what needs to be done, or are you setting yourself such a heavy timetable that you are bound not to keep to it. This is the opposite problem from the previous one: rather than underestimating what needs to be done, you may overestimate what you should do, and then feel so daunted you do not get around to doing any of it.

– Time limited: Every goal can usefully have a time limit attached to permit you to review whether or not you have met it.

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