How to Handle the Situation After Missing a Test or an Important Assignment
If you have ever missed a test or failed to turn in a major assignment on time, then you know that the longer you’ve been gone, the harder it becomes to work on that late project. What can you do to break the cycle of avoidance and delay?
Realize that your absence weighs heavier on your mind than the other person’s. Advisors are not losing sleep over late dissertation proposals and journal editors aren’t agonizing over missing manuscripts. The project is more important to you than anyone else.
Remember, when you do get in touch, the person is unlikely to be angry and punitive. We tend to be much harsher about our own tardiness than we are about other people’s delays. Advisors know it is difficult to write dissertation drafts. Journal editors are accustomed to academics who take a long time to turn around R&R manuscripts.
Lower rather than raise your standards when you’re running late. Don’t try to make your work more polished to make up for taking so long. Just try to get something sent out for feedback. End the cycle by chanting to yourself “A done dissertation is a good dissertation” or “A published paper is the only paper that counts.”
Get in touch even before you have the “completed product” ready for review. Try to get in touch as soon as you know that you are going to miss the deadline. Let the person know that you are working on your project. Facing your fear of the other person’s disapproval and re-establishing contact, will help lower your anxiety so that you can get back to work
Beware of setting deadlines you won’t be able to meet. If you are running late with a project, and you decide to resume contact, try not to set yourself up for another failure. Don’t tell your advisor or an editor “I’ll have it to you by next week.” Instead, tell the person what you’ve already accomplished, explain what you still need to work on, and say that you’ll have it to them as soon as possible. If appropriate, ask the person if they’d like to review what you’ve written so far.
Sidestep going AWOL in the first place. Set up a meeting with your advisor with the plan of having the entire proposal done. If you realize, a few days before the meeting, that a complete draft won’t be possible, ask whether you can turn in an incomplete draft annotated with specific questions you have about the gaps. If a journal editor asks for an estimated date for the revision, reply that you’ll try to...