The art of writing an assignment under pressure

Female studying at a laptop on a couch


There’s nothing like writing an assignment for your online MBA or Graduate Certificate in Business Administration to remind you that time flies. Thankfully, with preparation, focus, and discipline you can manage your time and write a great assignment under pressure. Read on for our top tips to help you do just that.

Getting ready to write

Clear your work space, your mind, and your schedule. Having all research and reference materials at hand before you begin will save time later on.

Conquer the blank page

Even the most experienced writers find the blank page an intimidating thing and this only adds to the pressure. Once you’re underway, those feelings dissipate, but the question remains, how do you start?

Writing an outline of your assignment can give you immediate momentum. Just seeing words on the blank page (or screen) will ease nerves and you can proceed to flesh out the skeleton. In the article 20 Top Tips for Writing an Essay in a Hurry published on the Oxford Royale website, it’s suggested you put your notes directly into the document and use them as an assignment plan. If you’re having trouble writing an introduction, work on the body of your assignment and revisit the start at a later date.

Focus on the task, not the outcome

It’s tempting to look towards your goal and forget the steps that will get you there. This is discussed in Business Insider which examined the book Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry:

Instead of worrying about the outcome, worry about the task at hand. That means developing tunnel vision, they explain. When you keep your eye on the task at hand (and only the task at hand), all you can see is the concrete steps necessary to excel.

For a student writing a paper, that means concentrating on doing stellar research — not obsessing about the ultimate grade and what will happen if you don’t get it.

This advice is echoed by our Student Support Advisors, who have coached other students just like you, to focus on the task at hand. They’ve helped students see past their fear of failure or need for a particular grade so that they’re able to refocus on what’s within their control in the here and now.

Nothing replaces discipline and hard work

Discipline and hard work will help you meet your deadline, so turn off your phone, limit your online presence and focus exclusively on the task at hand, at least for a while. Here are other ways to approach your studies with discipline and boost productivity:

  • Add references and bibliographies as you go;
  • Proofread while you write;
  • Simplify your writing style. This will save time and make your assignment easier to understand;
  • Don’t panic if your writing stalls. Change your work space to stimulate you. Alternatively, take a short break, forget about what you’re writing, and let your subconscious come up with the right words – crossword fans swear by this one;
  • Reward yourself for completing work on time.

Here’s a reassuring thought to leave you with – most of the writing you’ve ever done has been completed under pressure. You’ve filled enough blank pages, met enough deadlines, and made enough sense to get this far in your academic life and career. There’s no reason why you won’t do the same this time and throughout the rest of your studies.

How to prioritise your MBA workload when you’re under stress
Previous article
Why postgraduate study is valuable for your career
Next article