How to Handle the Situation After Missing a Test or an Important Assignment

How to Handle the Situation After Missing a Test or an Important Assignment

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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...

... middle of paper ...

...or the point. You’re late. You’re sorry. You’re now doing your best to complete the project.

Try a “practice run” before clicking on the send button. I often advise coaching clients to write a draft of a difficult email without typing in the address to prevent sending an unfinished message accidentally. Often, clients report that once they’ve drafted a short ‘hello’ it feels surprisingly easy to send the email.

Keep in mind that even if you get a negative reaction when you revive contact, at least you’ve faced your dread of the unknown. Anticipating how the other person may respond to your missed deadline can feel like a black hole of potential admonishment. Even if your advisor or colleague is angry, at least you can begin to repair the relationship rather than allow resentment to fester. Get in touch and get it over with. You are likely to experience relief.

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