by Leah "You Butter Believe It" Bradford, Fiction team member and archivist
A manager once told me to “work smart, not hard.” And I’ve taken that to heart. Whenever I can, I try to find a more efficient way to get work done. I’ve found that setting individual deadlines for small steps in each assignment helps me to complete the project before its due date. This process allows me to feel accomplished after completing smaller tasks and tremendously decreases my stress level once I’ve completed the project.
Schedule If possible, I’ll schedule more time than necessary to complete each task. Once I complete a smaller task, I’ll cross it off my list and start the next one. Usually, because I’ve overestimated the amount of time each task will take, I’ll have some wiggle room. That way, if something comes up, I don’t feel immense pressure to rush to get the assignment done.
I suffer from intense tunnel vision. If there is a project to be done, I will continually work on it until it is finished. So, while I’m scheduling, I add in breaks for meals and rest and make sure to give myself a night off.
Work with Others After I think I’ve completed something, the second set of eyes helps ensure that I am submitting my best work. When looking for partners, I recommend asking someone within your field as well as asking someone outside of it.
The person who has studied similar content will ensure that you are correctly explaining yourself. The person outside of your field should be able to help you with the other content – if they don’t understand what’s going on in your assignment, your work is not clear and probably needs another edit.
Take Responsibility and Hold Yourself Accountable For another person to look at your work, you must have the project finished at least a few days before the due date. Having other people look at your work will keep you accountable and make sure that you’re meeting your goals on time.
Ultimately, this is your assignment. If you don’t give others enough time to look at your work, they may not help you at all. And, if for whatever reason you are not able to meet your deadline, let someone know a respectable time before the work is due so that they can adjust the time table if necessary. If your projects are school related, treat your education like a job, let it prepare you for your future career.
While planning your workload, it is important to remember to take a break. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a project and forget to take care of yourself. And that’s not such a great thing. You are not a machine. Sometimes completing a task on time is not possible.
It’s beneficial to complete assignments on time and get as much work done as often as you possibly can. It allows you to focus on other things and maybe get a decent night’s sleep. It’s just as important to let someone know if you need an extension to take care of yourself.
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."