Do you ever find yourself waiting until the last minute to write an essay? If so, you’re not alone.
The last-minute rush is common among college students, regardless of whether they’re in high school, college or completing their Master’s.
Procrastination is a common issue among students when it comes to writing essays. The temptation to pull an all-nighter right before the deadline can be strong, but this often leads to low-quality work and unsatisfactory grades.
You might be asking yourself – "Why can’t I start writing earlier,” Why does it take a looming deadline to motivate me to write" or “How do I break the cycle of last-minute essay writing."
Why do I take so much time to write an essay?
It's normal to take a lot of time to write an essay. However, when it takes too long, it could be because of a lack of motivation, a perfectionism mentality, or a lack of clarity and organization. Instead of writing everything at once, try to break it down into smaller tasks. You'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in less time.
This article explores the psychology behind why you write essays last minute and offers practical solutions for finishing your essay on time, along with expert insights and first-hand student tips.
Investigating the Complexities of Last-Minute Essay Writing from a Psychological Perspective
You may find it hard to write essays when you have ample time for several psychological reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons and their solutions.
Are you one of those who feel anxious when they try to start an essay early? You set it aside for later, and before you know it, you find yourself rushing to complete it at the last minute, sacrificing the quality of your essay and stressing yourself out unnecessarily.
One of the main reasons why students procrastinate is anxiety.
You may feel anxious because you’re overwhelmed by the essay requirements, unsure how to start, or worried about not earning a good grade. While it’s normal to feel anxious when facing a new task, sometimes it can get out of hand. Anxiety can prevent you from starting a writing task or keep you from finishing it.
Solution: Break the essay down
Try breaking down the essay into smaller, manageable tasks to overcome anxiety.
Start by identifying key components of the essay, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion. Then, focus on each section at a time and aim to complete it before moving on to the next.
“Dividing a challenging essay into smaller, more achievable tasks has been a game-changer for me. By taking it one section at a time, I feel less overwhelmed and more in control of the writing process,” says Jeremy, a Master’s student.
Making a detailed outline of your paper beforehand will also be helpful, as this will reduce anxiety once you start writing.
2. Fear of failure
Another common cause of last-minute rush is the fear of failure. You may worry that you won’t be able to write a good essay or that your writing won’t meet your professor’s expectations.
This can be particularly problematic for perfectionists or those with very high expectations.
Solution: Change your mindset
To overcome this fear, it's important to change your mindset from "I must succeed" to "I will do my best." Recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and that getting feedback from your professor can help you improve.
While changing your mindset is more of a long-term solution, what do you do when time is running out, and you’re crippled with fear? You turn to an online essay writing service such as Writers Per Hour.
Our team of experienced writers is committed to providing you with timely delivery of 100% original and plagiarism-free essays. We offer more than just research and writing services – our experts can also edit and rewrite your paper to meet your specific requirements.
If you are pressed for time, our fast essay writers are available to deliver papers within 24, 16, 8, or even 5 hours, ensuring that you meet your deadlines without compromising quality.
3. Chronic procrastinator
The inability to manage time effectively is another common reason behind last-minute essays.
If you’re stuck in the habit of delaying tasks until the last minute, you may find it hard to write your essays on time. Maybe you’re the type of person who derives their motivation from the deadline panic!
Solution: Utilize time-management tools and techniques
If you’ve been asking yourself, “How do I stop procrastinating on my writing assignments?”
The solution is to start writing an essay as soon as it’s assigned. Try using time management techniques like the Pomodoro method— working for 25 minutes and taking a break for 5 minutes.
Also, utilize time-management tools like a planner, a calendar, or a daily to-do list to help you stay focused and motivated. This can help you complete tasks within a specific time frame to avoid procrastination.
“I've found that creating a detailed to-do list is an effective way to beat procrastination and stay on track. Break down your essay into chunks and set specific deadlines for each one. This will help you stay motivated and focused and avoid the temptation to put off the work until the last minute,” advises Anne, our expert writer.
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress in many cases. While it’s natural to want to do your best, perfectionism is a trap that can prevent you from starting or even completing tasks.
Wanting to submit a perfect essay can lead to overthinking, rewriting, and delaying the final product. Remember: submitting an imperfect essay on time is better than submitting a perfect one late.
Solution: Set realistic standards
The solution for perfectionism is to set reasonable standards for your work and be willing to accept feedback.
It’s essential to understand that writing is not a one-shot attempt but a process that involves continuous improvement. Revising papers is also a regular part of the writing process.
Remember that making mistakes is natural, so instead of striving for perfection, aim for progress.
5. Task aversion
Sometimes, you may find yourself in a time crunch due to sheer task aversion. You may simply not enjoy writing essays or find the task tedious. You may also find the essay topic challenging, or you may not be feeling confident in your writing skills.
Solution: Make it enjoyable
To overcome task aversion, try finding ways to make essay writing more enjoyable. For instance, you can choose a topic that interests you, write in an inspiring environment like a coffee shop, or reward yourself after completing the essay.
If the essay topic is very challenging, consider seeking help from professors or tutors for a fresh perspective and guidance.
6. Lack of preparation
Another reason for writing essays last-minute is lack of preparation. Maybe you don’t understand the essay requirements clearly, or simply underestimate how much time it will take to complete.
For instance, if you are tasked with writing a ToK exhibition paper on a complex topic, you may not realize that it requires a lot of research and analysis beforehand, leading you to leave it until the last minute.
Solution: Prepare well beforehand
To combat this, take time to read the essay prompt thoroughly, research the subject matter, and brainstorm ideas before diving in.
Identify and bookmark all the relevant sources you’ll use for reference when you start writing. Also, take down notes as you research to avoid cramming.
Once you’re well prepared, set aside specific times to work on your essay and break it down into smaller manageable steps.
Writing a full essay can be an uphill task if you’re uncertain how to approach it. Maybe the topic sounds quite unfamiliar, or you don’t understand some aspects of the essay prompt.
When you don’t know where to start or feel overwhelmed by the task, it’s easy to put it off until the last minute.
Solution: Reach out for clarity
To overcome uncertainty, you can always write to your professor, asking for clarification. They’ll certainly help you understand any confusing aspects of the assignment.
Alternatively, you can discuss the essay prompt with your classmates to get their perspectives before you dive into writing.
“I remember one time when I was really struggling with an essay assignment. I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around the essay question, and I was feeling very unsure about how to proceed. Finally, I decided to approach my professor and ask for help.
My professor was incredibly understanding and supportive. She took the time to walk me through the essay question and provided me with some helpful resources that I could use to research and write the essay.
Thanks to her guidance and support, I was able to kickstart the essay with confidence,” shares IB student Mark.
8. Lack of interest in the topic
Let’s face it: some topics just aren’t interesting to write about! If the subject matter of the essay doesn’t appeal to you, it can be tempting to put it off until the last possible moment.
However, you’ll only end up cutting it close, which is a recipe for disaster.
Solution: Make correlations
To address this issue, find a way to relate the topic to your personal interests or career aspirations.
Can you connect it to a current event or a larger societal issue you care about? Is there any way the topic impacts you directly or indirectly? Writing an essay can be much easier if you can relate to the topic in real life.
9. Fear of negative feedback
Sometimes we procrastinate because we fear receiving negative feedback or criticism of our work. While it's natural to want to avoid harsh criticism, remember constructive feedback is essential for growth and improvement.
Solution: Embrace feedback
Instead of being afraid of negative feedback, embrace it as an opportunity to learn and improve your writing skills.
Reach out to your professor, family, or friends for feedback and ask for specific areas you can improve on. Then, incorporate that feedback to improve your essays and boost your confidence in writing.
10. Poor prioritization
Finally, poor prioritization and time management skills can cause us to procrastinate essays until the eleventh hour!
Maybe you’ve wondered, “What's wrong with me that I can't manage my time better?"
When you have a lot on your plate, putting off the most unpleasant tasks until the last possible moment can be tempting. You may find yourself prioritizing other tasks (e.g., socializing or watching Netflix) over your essays.
Solution: Learn to prioritize
To curb this issue, learn to prioritize tasks and write down a daily priority list from the most important to the least important tasks.
Set realistic deadlines for each task and stick to them, giving yourself reward breaks after completing every task.
How to stay awake to write an essay?
If you want to stay awake to write an essay, drink lots of water and eat healthy snacks like fruits and nuts to keep your energy levels up. Also, take small breaks occasionally and stretch your legs to improve blood circulation. Finally, listen to some upbeat music and drink a cup of coffee to stimulate your brain and improve concentration.
Now you have it! If you’ve been wondering why it’s so hard to start your essays on time, you could be a victim of one or two of the above culprits.
Waiting for the last-minute rush is a bad habit that can lead you to earn poor grades. Fortunately, procrastination is a habit that can be broken, though it takes time and effort.
By understanding the psychological reasons why we procrastinate, you can implement effective strategies to help you overcome the last-minute syndrome. Ultimately, you’ll become a more productive and confident essay writer.
Last edit at May 12 2023