1. jo spumoni
    Offline

    jo spumoni Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA (and Mission Viejo, CA, during the su

    Really, really stressed...Any tips?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jo spumoni, Mar 15, 2012.

    I have five research papers to write!!!! I have finished one, fully researched another, half-researched the third, and am very, very behind on the other two, one of which is due next week. Basically, I'm dead. I don't know how I'd do this in the best of times, but just to make things harder, I'm studying abroad in Ireland, so the subjects (Irish history, Viking history, and ancient Greece) are unfamiliar to me and on top of everything, I keep getting distracted (which is how I got so behind in the first place). I can't seem to just sit down and study, but even if I could, I'm really not sure this is possible. I have two papers due on Tuesday and I haven't started actually writing either one. I only have a vague idea of what one of them will even be about. I feel so overwhelmed, I'm having trouble getting started, but if I don't start soon, I'm going to end up losing my mind...or failing my classes. Whichever comes first.

    So what's the best way to write when you're overwhelmed, stressed out, highly distracted, and have very, very little time?
     
  2. Kaymindless
    Offline

    Kaymindless Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas, United States
    I tend to put myself into this position regularly. Step one is to breath so you can calm your body. Then prioritize. Work on the first one due (or two) Outline (pick a topic, randomly if must be,) research, and drink coffee, tea, or whatever your rush of choice is. Key in getting done, once the research is done, turn the internet off and start writing. Take short breaks for food, snacks, etc. I prefer vegetables but it's to wake your mind up when you start getting weary. Once you have what you need done, take a nap/sleep, with enough time given to edit them. May not be your best but it's better than nothing.
     
  3. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Look at it logically not emotionally. Prioritize, focus and then do it. Stressing out sure isn't going to help, just make it worse. I found the subjects you listed all very interesting when I was young so try to enjoy it.
     
  4. CheddarCheese
    Offline

    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Messages:
    492
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Canada
    Hi jo,

    Do your teachers/professors know your workload? If not, you should bring it to their attention. It's a rare case that so many large assignments get pasted in a relatively short period of time, and many teachers/professors will give you an extension if you tell them the problem.

    If this is not an option (they've all been assigned a long time ago, and you've just procrastinated), then try to make an educated guess on whether or not you will be able to finish all your papers if you do your best. If the answer is 'no', meaning you absolutely cannot finish all your papers no matter what, then you have to start prioritizing. Which classes are the most important to you? Which classes can you take a hit, but not fail? Do the papers that must be done, then see if you have time for the rest.

    If it's just the case that you could do it if you tried, but you're having trouble trying, then you're in for some hard times (and you'll learn a thing or two for next time :p). You may have to re-schedule everything you do per day until you hand the papers in. And I mean everything. Sleep will have to be taken in careful intervals, food will have to be eaten while researching, etc. You'll just have to build the discipline and drive (sounds easier said than done, but it's true) to work your way through all the papers. Like Kaymindless said before me, this will require prioritization as well; just in case you can't get everything done. Sit down, get started, and keep going. But don't forget to dedicate a few hours to rest and relaxation, or your quality will pay for it.

    Good luck.
     
  5. Whirlwind
    Offline

    Whirlwind Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    This works for me:

    Get a ticket to a strange city and hang around the hotel bars or backpacker joints. Force yourself to talk and drink with strangers. Find out the tourist destinations and hitchhike there. Take a tent and wildcamp near a river. Tube or raft down the river. Get laid with a stranger. Go visit your local bungy-jump outfit.

    When you get back, you'll be able to focus.
     
  6. Carthonn
    Offline

    Carthonn Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    32
    Make a request for an extension. It can't hurt. If your professor denies you then he's an unrealistic sadist.
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is not meant to be harsh, but if you are struggling this hard to keep your head above wqter, why have you been spending so much time online here lately? Are you spending comparable amounts of time on other non-school sites as well?

    I know you need to take breaks from the schoolwork, or you'll burn yourself out. Still, the course work does have to take priority, and your downtime is probably best spent NOT doing more typing. That really isn't downtime!

    I first joined this site after I finished the majority of my college degree, to convert the momentum from writing academic papers and channel it into creative writing. I couldn't, and wouldn't, have tried it when I was in the thick of the coursework and working full time as well.

    For right now, though:

    1. Breathe.
    2. If you can do so without getting tossed into a rubber room, go to an isolated location and scream until you're dizzy. Really, this is like step 1 on steroids.
    3. Tackle the toughest paper first. When you've made some progress and are feeling yourself losing ,omentum, take a breif break and then take a shot at the next-toughest paper.
    4. Leave the easiest paper for last. It's dessert.
    5. Leave time at the end to proofread them all. After what you've already managed by then, it will seem like coasting. But it will be worth it.
     
  8. jo spumoni
    Offline

    jo spumoni Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA (and Mission Viejo, CA, during the su
    I can't focus. Simple as that. If I wasn't here, I'd be doing some other stupid, unproductive thing. This is the lesser of my evils, because at least when I'm here I'm reminded that I should be writing. I know it doesn't make sense. It's like I have a death wish or something, but for the life of me, I can't work for more than maybe two hours at a time without taking a break.

    Your schedule is great, but I don't have that kind of choice with the order. They are all due at different times within about 10 days of each other. All calculated out, I have maybe three days to write each paper, which would be OK normally, but which makes me nervous for the papers I'm not well-researched on.
     
  9. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    It sounds like you're dealing with some difficult anxiety. Like you try to sit down to work, but you get so overwhelmed with the prospect of all the work that you get tired, or distracted by internets, or whatever. And then you worry that you've been procrastinating so much, which only makes you anxious and procrastinate more... (Can you tell I've been there? Haha.)

    This is what I do:
    1) Reward yourself for the little things. "Hey! I didn't get distracted for a whole 15 minutes! Now I get a cookie!"
    2) Meditate. It's not so hard, just sit with your mind clear. Sit at your desk, breath, close your eyes, and try to summon up the drive to get going. Don't move until your anxiety is down and your drive is up.
    3) Set timers. I do 50 minutes of work, then 10 minute breaks. Sometimes I stretch my 10 minutes to 20 minutes, but I'm getting better at that. During your 50 minutes, however, NO distractions.
    4) Monotonous music. Something that won't distract you entirely, but enough to ironically get you to focus. Try techno or indian classical music.
    5) Five-hour energy. This stuff is magic. I only use it for crunch-time, but it keeps me awake and focused during exhausting/late-night stretches of work.
    EDIT:
    6) Eliminate all distractions. Disconnect the internet. Unplug the TV. Distractions are sometimes like whack-a-mole, once you beat one down another one pops up. But be vigilant and keep removing your distractions (including this site!)

    Look. It's the last minute, and that's where everything starts coming together. You can do this. No matter what happens, it won't mean the end of the world.

    Keep your professors in the loop. Some of them might not like it at first, but others will be receptive to it right away. Tell them you are really anxious about all you have to do, and that it's making it really hard to do anything.

    And most importantly: Forgive yourself for putting you through this.
     
  10. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Go to youtube and type in guided meditation. Follow one then turn off the internet. Tuesday is five days and plenty of time to write two. How long are the essays? One less than 5,000 words only needs three books to be written and only parts of those books will be relevant to the assignment.

    Ignore your professors probable advice and start by reading an encyclopedia entry just for a general, basic foundation of the subject. Then open each book randomly three times. Take a quote you like from each one that seems to fit what you want/have to write. Analyse them all fitting in the quotes and only do extra research you need when you need it, targeting the area you are focusing on, by making extensive use of the index. Don't over write if you an assignment of 2000 words get to 1800 and write a conclusion, and don't over research. If you write each paragraph, or idea with a mini conclusion at the end it won't feel like you just ended it.

    Do it that way they should take less than a day each, because you research and write concurrently. You can research properly when they are finished. If not focus on just one at a time. Get one finished and if you are still struggling on Monday see your personal tutor/counsellor. However as you start writing the adrenallin should kick and you will probably go faster and not take breaks the same ;)
     
  11. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    You have to start telling yourself that you can do this; my mother always said 'there is no such word as can't'.

    As to being overwhelmed, you need to cut the work load down into workable, chunk sized pieces. Don't dwell on the big picture, one step at a time.

    Your studying abroad, how lucky you are to be in and see another part of the world.

    Try not to worry, get stuck in and good luck.
     
  12. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I agree with almost all of the above - and yeah, been there, done that. First, check with the professors to see if one or two might give you an extension (even if it means a slightly lesser grade). Then look at which one(s) will have the most effect on your overall schooling (positive and negative). Prioritize based on a combination of these two. And even without an extension, ask the professor - if they haven't already mentioned this - what kind of fallout there would be for turning it in late. Sometimes that's survivable, sometimes not.

    And once you've gotten through this mess, do what I taught myself and my son to do - as soon as you get the next assignment - DO IT! Then it's done, out of the way, you can relax and laugh at the other students who end up in the boat you're in now.
     
  13. Kaymindless
    Offline

    Kaymindless Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas, United States
    The best advice ever but the hardest to implement.
     
  14. Dryriver
    Offline

    Dryriver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2011
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Istanbul, Turkey
    Here's one way to get it done:

    For each paper, identify 5 important points that absolutely need to come across, and 3 - 5 lesser points that serve as windowdressing for a professor looking to see that you have done some research.

    Now write a short outline of the paper in bullet points. This will take 10 - 20 mins max. Something like this:

    1. Intro to the subject
    - (<- each of these is a paragraph)
    -
    -
    2. What the written research says
    -
    -
    -
    3. Argument I am building based on research I did
    -
    -
    -
    -
    4. Evidence supporting my argument
    -
    -
    -
    -
    5. Possible Counter Arguments (in brief)
    -
    -
    -
    -
    6. Closing Statement & End-Summary/Abstract of Paper
    -
    -
    -
    -
    7. Bibliography and List of Sources Used
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -

    There. Done. Now you only have to write the paper out in flowing Academic prose.

    If you are short on time, you can try writing in short but very concise/fact-filled sentences.

    An important fact every 1 - 3 sentences, or 2 - 3 facts per paragraph should do it.

    Good Luck. Enjoy your student days while they last. =)
     
  15. minstrel
    Online

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    This. ANY task can be managed if you break it into small pieces and do each of them one at a time. Do a piece and give yourself a round of applause for accomplishing it, then move on to the next. You'll get something DONE that way. You may have a thousand miles to go, but don't think about the thousand miles. Just think about the next step. You won't collapse. You'll stand strong. And at the end, you'll still be standing strong.
     

Share This Page