Having numerous essays, assignments, dissertations lab reports and other paperwork to hand in during my two years at Imperial, I found something very special about me. In order to write a good essay, I need to do it last minute. And by last minute, I really mean last minute. There is something in me that prevents me from doing work, if I know that I have more than enough time to complete it. If there is a week for me to finish my work, I would nearly certainly start doing it on Sunday evening, most possibly ending with an all-nighter. Crazy, you mightthink. Most of the people I know think so - but not me. Starting the work late makes me more focused, and the tension adds motivation.
The best thing about this method is that it actually works. I do get firsts for most of my essays, and the mark I get is nearly inversely proportional to the time spent on the essay. As an example, I finished my bioinformatics projects 3 seconds before the deadline. Result? 85%. People on my course hate me for that, but it’s just how it works for me.
As good as my method is, it is not perfect. As mentioned in my previous post, I recently had to submit my 4000-word tutored dissertation on a very exciting topic of falls in the elderly. Although I had all my information gathered and in theory knew what to write, I really started the day before the deadline. After all, I thought that if I write 5 words a minute, I can finish the whole thing in 13 hours. As a scientist, I should have known that theories usually don’t work.
My deadline was 2 pm. I had to submit both paper and electronic copies, which meant that I had to leave at 1 pm to get to South Ken and print the dissertation. I was nearly finished at 12 pm, had to add some references and a chart, and to proof-read my beautiful essay. And then my computer crashed. No biggie, anyone would think, but my computer, a real geek-machine usually takes 15 minutes to start-up. What’s worse, I discovered that Word somehow failed to create an autorecovery version of my file, leaving me with 500 words to write. After some time, I found the actual version, but had very little time to finish it. Fortunately, my friend was at Imperial, and he was happy to print and submit it for me. Happy, I continued in writing about personal airbags and then my internet connection stopped working. It wasn’t my computer’s fault, it was definitely something wrong with my ISP which I won’t name. Although I could continue without internet, my main source of information was available only online, and as I mentioned I had to submit my work electronically using WebCT. Desperate, I unplugged my laptop, rushed to the window where I knew I would found an unsecure wireless network – but not this time. And so I ran to the tube. Of course, there were delays. By the time I was there, I had no time to finish, and had two options left – submit the incomplete version, or refine it over night and get a 5% penalty. I chose the latter, and submitted it the next day.
That should really teach me a lesson. And I think it succeeded- now I know that one day is not enough to write the whole dissertation. Two days, on the other hand…
Incidentally, I am writing this post because I got bored of writing my lab report which I have to submit by Monday. I wrote 0 words so far. I’m sure I can finish it tomorrow. Or more realistically, on Sunday.