Break in Perspectives #1: Deadlines

Break in Perspectives arose from an exchange and a dialogue between a student and a lecturer about an educational subject. This blog intends to present a specific topic from two views on a monthly base.

Mona Meyer, 37, lecturer

How others perceive me: solution-oriented, idea-driven, always on the go
My business mantra: “Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” (Siqi Chen)
My happy-life equation: “No Alarm Clock Needed. My Passion Wakes me up.” (Eric Thomas)

Merriam-Webster gives the first definition of a deadline as “a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot”. Our definition is rather harmless, but probably still frightening.

What we mean with deadline is the latest time or date of an assignment to be submitted. And since students can upload their assignments onto a platform, they have learned to take advantages of the software weaknesses. Hence, we lecturers set programmed times on the platform, e.g. 11 pm. The standard deviation of submissions is about a day.

Why do we set ‘time limits’? One reason is to offer identical conditions for students. Other reasons are given by predefined framework conditions of the university. If we do an in-depth analysis, we will see that it is also about developing and strengthening the self-competence of students. They take responsibility for managing their assignment, respectively their project. Time is an asset; so, students shall treat it wisely. Furthermore: efficiently, and carefully.

Handing in assignments on time shows how students organise their time, how engaged and passionate they are, and how important it is for them to fulfil the minimum requirement (to hand in on time, avoiding unnecessary losses of points).

Drawing a schedule is easily done. Sticking consistently to the own plan, that’s a different kettle of fish. How can you keep up with your own plan? Involve other people (e.g. fellow students, parents, friends, project members, mentor). Simply ask them to check on you.

Next time when you know your submission date, plan it from back to front: set your own deadline closer to the present , allow at least two buffers (e.g. each of one week for other work demands, illness or injury), share it with family and friends, break down your assignment in ‘packages’, schedule 3-weeks-reviews/milestones, be the first to upload your assignment, and reward yourself. Remember: Deadlines can teach an important lesson about your ability, and are supposed to increase your productivity.

 

Michèle Ritter, 24, student

How other perceive me: well-organised, ambitious, cosmopolitan
My business mantra: “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” (Harvey Specter)
My motto: “Dreaming after all is a form of planning.” (Gloria Steinheim)

What are deadlines? Well, for me, deadlines are helpers that make you work when you should. Unfortunately, with one deadline, the work is not done. Setting up a plan around the deadline is crucial and one step toward a successful completion.
In addition to submission day, I also set up milestones on the way. That is why they help; milestones pressure you in a certain way and are one reason to reward yourself when you meet them.

Do not get me wrong, with a plan you will not hate deadlines less, they just get more comfortable.

A second focus lies on the execution of the plan. A plan can be perfect, but if you fail to execute it well, it is less useful. Most of the time, when I set up the plan to reach an assignment deadline, there is plenty of time left until submission day, which makes me feel confident. The challenge then is to start working and keeping up with the schedule. Because nothing feels more comfortable than having plenty of time until due day, doesn’t it?

Especially now in December, when the deadline-struggle is real, we all have to schedule our days wisely. Accomplishing that leaves us with a nice side-effect, because we all like to enjoy the pre-holiday season a little, don’t we?

For me, December deadlines and January exams (pretty much the biggest deadline of all) are the real planning challenge during the year. Everyone else is in a festive mood and you are busy keeping everything on track and not missing due days. Especially with all the group assignments during December, it is important to prioritise. I personally first plan all the group projects before I get to the exam planning, which I then schedule around the assignments. With that, I assure that deadlines for my groups are met on time, since there are others depending on my work as well.

As I said, December and January won’t be our favourite months until we are done with our studies, but planning can help make them more easy-going so that you can enjoy a mulled wine once in a while. Happy deadline-season!

Contact the authors

Mona Meyer, mona.meyer@fhnw.ch

Michèle Ritter, michele.ritter@students.fhnw.ch

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