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I would keep telling myself I wasn’t ready yet. I thought I just needed a little bit more information before I could start the essay but I didn’t quite know what that information was. I kept looking through my sources (and looking for new sources) trying to figure out that key piece of the puzzle I felt like I was missing. The essay was due the next day and I still had barely written a word. I was stuck.

Now I know better strategies to write awesome essays but at the time this was a major problem.

This is a situation a lot of people get themselves caught up in. They end up trying to perfect something to the point that they never actually follow through and do it.

The reality usually is that a half assed job is dramatically better than not getting something done at all when it comes to school (depending on your teacher’s late work policy.)

Every time you put off something with a tight time schedule on it, you’re sacrificing one of the most valuable resources you have. (The time itself.) It would be better to produce something subpar and correct it than to continue to hope you’ll find that missing piece.

In my experience, that missing piece that I’m looking for will never be found. As soon as I find it I’ll just find some other problem that I can’t proceed without solving. It’s a never ending delay.

There are times when delaying something might be the right move. When it’s not the right move, you need to know it. At a certain point, you need to just start doing what you need to do despite not feeling ready for it. That time you need to start is dramatically sooner than you think it is.

Most students wait until the last night to buckle down and accept it’s time to do whatever it takes to complete that work. In some ways, that makes the assignment easier. (Work tends to expand to the amount of time you give it.) With that, it unfortunately forces you to limit the quality review you can do on it.

Instead of having that emergency work completion the night before something is due, it would do you good to freak out 2 days before it is due with the illusion it is due the next day. Then the next day you could do a quick review and often boost your own grade by another 5 or 10%. That 5 or 10% will often be more than what you could have gotten if you finally had all the stars aligning the way you were hoping they would.

Sometimes it’s better to just get something done than to try and perfect it. 9 Strategies To Make Homework A Breeze (Cliche Free) can give you some more ideas on how to get your work done faster and easier.

Are you looking to study in less time than ever while getting grades higher than ever? That’s what this blog is all about. Check out the books in the sidebar, the articles in the archives, or follow along to learn more.

When Delaying Is Worse Than Being Wrong

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One thought on “When Delaying Is Worse Than Being Wrong

  • November 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm
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    This is exactly what I do. I recently read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck and I think that my “fixed mindset” leads me to put things off because of a fear of failure.

    Instead of helping, putting things off until the last minute has resulted in my turning in some subpar assignments and even taking a zero on one or two. I’ve found that it’s much better to get started early and focus on using additional time to really improve a project or even just to realize that I need more help or input from my teacher.

    Do you have any suggestions for finding motivation to get a head start on assignments?

    Reply

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