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Paralysis in starting an assignment

I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.


Draw the structure as a picture - question in the centre, introduction headings liking across the top of the page, 1st section out of the right and side, next a the bottom etc. Build the structure visually first. Then the job is done, you just type up the detail of the sections when you have the time, in bite-sized chunks.
Reply 2
Original post by threeportdrift


Draw the structure as a picture - question in the centre, introduction headings liking across the top of the page, 1st section out of the right and side, next a the bottom etc. Build the structure visually first. Then the job is done, you just type up the detail of the sections when you have the time, in bite-sized chunks.


That is extremely helpful, thank you! I could do with breaking things down into sizeable chunks, and doing so visually. Do you think it is best to do this with a pen and paper, or do you think this could be done digitally as well?
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.

Hi!

I've been there! Starting an assignment can be a task and a half (luckily for me as I'm doing a CS degree we don't have to face this issue too much but I have gotten better at figuring out how to start).

What works for me is that I open up my word doc (or you can do it on paper if needed but I find word easier as mistakes are erased instantly and so I feel less scared of messing up) and on my word doc I will write out the basics, I pop down a title, my name, page numbers and then just start writing down sub-headings, even if I've got no clue if they're to exact right sub-headings, having something there takes away the big scary blank page and makes it a little easier.

I then go through and write a mini version of what I want in each section ie for the introduction ( Throughout this essay about blank I will dive into the different theories on blank including subheading 1 and subheading 2) and do the same for the paragraphs or parts under heading below. Nothing that will really stay in the end result but it gives you a jumping off point. I then grab my notes or head to google to research and start to fill in those blanks and vague statements with actual knowledge.

It's a very strange system but it works for me and maybe you too! Sorry for the longwinded answer but hopefully it might help a little 🙂

- Jessica
2nd year, Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence)
Original post by LiteraryGeek
That is extremely helpful, thank you! I could do with breaking things down into sizeable chunks, and doing so visually. Do you think it is best to do this with a pen and paper, or do you think this could be done digitally as well?

Do it with pen and paper - you just procrastinate more doing it digitally.
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.

Hi @LiteraryGeek ,

I think a lot of student will relate to this paralysis and it is very hard to push through!

Is your assignment an essay?

The way I have gone about this in the past is by breaking it down into smaller steps like others have said. I also use the body doubling method where I get someone else (online or in person) to work at the same time as me with my phone on mute and surprisingly it helps because I feel like if I have planned to work with someone I may swell try get started.

Whenever an assignment is set I also like to have a think about it myself then brainstorm ideas and bounce off of a friend in the same module. We don't usually end up with the same approach or ideas but it is nice to have someone who can explore your idea but also you can help them explore their ideas more.

I hope this helps and good luck with the assignment! :smile:

Alia
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.

@LiteraryGeek

Literally, you do just have to decide that you are going to work on your assignment and have to give time to it, say and hour or two where you are just going to focus on getting part of the assignment done. It might be that you choose to start at the beginning or another section, but you just focus on writing.

It might be the environment. You might need a quiet and relaxed space to work. You might also have to turn off the music, stop checking emails or responding to alerts on your phone.

Try not to write and then edit and then write a bit and then edit. Do a block of writing and then edit or wait until the end of your writing session. You could also wait until the next time you spend time on your assignment. It's useful to not keep switching and changing between writing and editing as it disrupts your flow.

Don't worry if you edit your work and think 'It's not very good", because once you know what isn't working, you will know what you need to add, delete or change.

It's a step-by-step process, even small steps help to get you to where you need to be, so try not to stress if you don't get much as done in each session as you would like. As long as you've got deadlines for the different tasks you need to do and you're on schedule to meet the actual deadline for the assignment, then you don't have to panic yet !

All the best,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I'm writing this particularly as a way of accountability; I have an assignment due in a few weeks, and I feel absolutely paralyzed. Particularly in terms of where to start despite having already taken some notes.

I now need to take these notes, and develop them into a proper plan, and then get to writing it up. However, I will ask: have you been in a similar situation, where you know kind of where you're going to go, you just need to actually do it? I guess that like my writing writing this post it is a lot of finding an activity that allows you to switch from that paralysis, to actually getting on with it.

After all, it is no good being petrified to start, out of a feeling of perfectionism, and have nothing to hand in.

Hey!
I totally understand where you are coming from. I have personally faced this during my assignments all the time. The thing I learnt from experience was that the focus should be progress rather than perfectionism. You can always revise and refine your work later. The strategy of breaking down the assignment assignment into very small and manageable tasks really works, it can be as low as just working on for 15 mins. If you create a checklist, it will motivate you further to do the assignment, as you slowly check off the points, and it will keep you accountable as well. Remember, you've got this! The first step is often the hardest, but once you start, you'll likely find yourself gaining momentum. Good luck with your assignment!

Best Wishes
Priya :smile:
Postgraduate Ambassador
University of Southampton
(edited 6 months ago)

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