Deadline season: a survival guide

As we enter the final couple of weeks of term, the deadlines are looming. Formatives and summatives alike are piling up, encompassing everything from reports and presentations to essays and more. At a time like this, it’s difficult to keep up with everything and look after yourself, even though this is the most crucial time for self-care! In light of this, here are a few things you can do to try and maintain some semblance of sanity and health in this hectic period.



Getting through assignments takes a lot of effort, so it’s important to try and create some sustained motivation for yourself. You could:

  • Change up your working environment – being in a new environment might make you feel a bit less suffocated and add a little extra drive to your work session. Everyone will work well in various spaces, so don’t be afraid to try something different.
  • Listen to some good music – if you’re the kind of person who likes to listen to music as they work, having the right tunes on can really affect how you work. If you’re feeling a little tired or down, maybe try some upbeat music to get your thoughts flowing! Or perhaps, if you’re looking to get into the zone, some instrumental music will help to bring some focus. Whatever works for you, don’t forget the power of music in affecting your mood (or, if music is a distraction, it’s okay to work in silence too!).
  • Reward yourself – when faced with a seemingly endless pile of work, celebrating your victories can make everything seem more manageable. Maybe you can treat yourself to a coffee when you’ve finished reading that article, or you can take the evening off if you finish your essay in time. If it helps, you can celebrate even the smallest of victories, like writing a paragraph or answering a question, and your rewards can be whatever you want them to be! If it motivates you, it’s worth doing, and before you know it, you’ll have got through that to-do list in no time.



Even at the busiest of times, the importance of relaxation cannot be understated. Working yourself too hard for too long will only lead to burning out, making deadline season even more difficult. If you’re worried about taking time off work, take this as your sign to take a break! It will be better for you physically, mentally and academically to look after yourself. Here are some relaxation ideas (a non-exhaustive list):

  • Meditation/yoga – take some time out to clear your mind and relax your body. Allowing yourself to move away from your assignments for a moment can help to relieve stress and even promote better clarity of thought when you go back working!
  • Watch a movie/TV series – whether you do this alone or with friends, watching a programme or film can take you away from any worries you might be feeling at the moment, and allow your mind to switch off and refresh itself for a while.
  • Exercise – going for a walk, run, gym session, or whatever kind of exercise you fancy is a great way to relieve stress and tension both mentally and physically! It’s good to move around, get some fresh air, and make sure you’re not sat in front of your laptop all day.
  • Sleep – make sure you get enough sleep, in spite of all the work you have to do! Feeling physically refreshed is key to having the brainpower and willpower to get through the endless word counts, references and equations that students have to battle through. It may seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter to do that piece of work, but you won’t feel so good in the next couple of days, impacting all the other things you want or need to do in that time. Sleeping well also helps your immune system, meaning you’re less likely to be burdened with an illness of some kind while doing your work.



The reality is that deadline season can be a tough time. You might feel stressed, worried and overwhelmed, and it’s easy to end up in a vicious cycle of negative feelings and unproductivity. Seeking support is always a smart idea, and here are some places you can turn to for various kinds of help:

  • College welfare – these wonderful teams of students are here to listen to your woes and can probably understand what you’re going through better than most people! Talking about your concerns can often make them seem smaller, and if you’re facing other issues, welfare teams can signpost you to the right places to go.
  • University student support + counselling – alongside college welfare teams, the university has its own central support systems in place to help students. The counselling service, in particular, can help students to manage any difficulties that are impacting them and their studies. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help, no matter how big or small your problems are – it doesn’t make you silly or weak; it makes you smart and can really help in both the long and short term!
  • Academic advisors/tutors – if you have concerns about your work, it’s okay to ask for support from members or your department! They are often passionate about their subject and passing on knowledge, and (if nothing else) they’re paid to be here to help you! Whether you need help understanding a concept or are struggling to balance your deadlines in this busy period, your department will be there for you to go to. Measures like extensions and other mitigations can be put in place to help you out during tough times.
  • Family and friends – last, but certainly not least, it can be helpful to talk to your family and friends if you feel comfortable doing so. They might be able to give you advice, relate to what you’re feeling, or can provide a distraction from your worries for a while!



As an English Literature student, I often find that all of my essays are due at once, making it very important for me to have different coping mechanisms during deadline season, some of which I will share now:

  • Comfortable headphones for working sessions – I like to listen to film/tv soundtracks or classical music for when I need to focus, and some more high energy songs when I need a bit of a boost! Comfortable headphones are therefore an absolute must-have for every library trip, although I always try to give my ears a break from them every now and then.
  • Coffee – I always feel more productive with a cup of coffee next to me (or, if it’s late in the evening, an herbal tea is a good substitute).
  • Study buddies – sometimes, having a friend working near me can help me to get more work done, because I feel that I’m being held accountable. If I’m not working with a friend, being in the library can have the same effect – I don’t want my fellow students to see me watching Netflix when I should be writing essays, so I end up doing the work!
  • Flora (a focus app) – putting a focus app on my phone can help me to stop endlessly scrolling as a form of procrastination, and seeing little plants grow makes working feel a little more fun sometimes.
  • Water – possibly the simplest, but often most helpful, tool in my survival kit. If I feel dehydrated, I don’t feel on top of my game, and making sure I’ve had enough water to drink also makes me feel less tired (plus, a trip to the water fountain is a good excuse to stretch my legs!).


These are just a few ideas on how to get through deadline season. It’s okay to experiment with different techniques and find out what works for you, and to have different coping methods to your fellow students. Whatever works for you, find it and use it!


Featured image by Pixabay on Pexels

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