When you just can’t get the assignment started

Have you ever had one those days when you really want to get a good start on your assignment? You turn on your computer, thinking that you’re going to get at least a thousand words over and done with in one sitting. This is it! It’s going to be the best assignment you’ve ever done and you’ll get a High Distinction on it. But when you finally open up the Word document, all you can hear are the sounds of crickets chirping as you wait for the assignment to magically start itself and you wonder how you’re ever going to get a single sentence out?

It’s happened to me too many times to count and unfortunately, it’s so easy to come up with excuses around starting the assignment. But I might miss something funny that somebody reblogs on Tumblr! What if something different happens this time in the episode I rewatch of Doctor Who? Maybe I should go to the city with my friends, even though I just went to the city with my friends yesterday. Throwing your computer at the wall even sounds like a better idea than starting the assignment.

Luckily, I’ve figured out a way around completely avoiding the assignment and it’s all to do with rewarding yourself while you’re doing it. Your assignment doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. Chances are, you’ll know what your assignment is pretty early on in the semester, so ideally you can get a start on it ASAP. Then you’ll have time to go back and edit it later on. Sometimes though, it’s just not possible to get going with it straight away. All you need to do is stay calm, remind yourself that you can do this and start with setting some rewards for yourself.

Remember, there’s no need to write a thousand words all in one hit. You don’t even need to make it the very best product on the first go. Take it a paragraph at a time and reward yourself as often as you can. Rewards are the key to motivation. You want to play Flappy Bird for half an hour after getting the introduction done? By all means, go and play Flappy Bird after you finish the first paragraph (though I guarantee you, you’ll end up more frustrated with Flappy Bird than you will at your assignment). After you’ve spent half an hour having some down time, go back and write two more paragraphs. Once they’re done, give yourself another break to have an impromptu Frozen sing-along or whatever else tickles your fancy. By setting any kind of reward for yourself throughout the assignment, you’ll get to the end of it eventually and it’ll all be worthwhile when you do. Your assignment will be done and dusted before you know it!

Now you can go out, have fun, party and celebrate the fact that you’ve got one pesky little assignment out of the way.


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    Albert Mwangi

    I’m also studying at QUT in my first semester as a masters student. Also had the same problem and I thought rewarding myself the same way you’ve mentioned could work. It actually does. Thanks for reassuring me 🙂

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