Given the number of steps you have to complete and the amount of time in which you have to complete them, assign a period of time you have to get each step done. You are, in effect, creating more deadlines for yourself by assigning a deadline for each step of the project. However, when you focus on one step at a time, the whole project gets finished before its ultimate deadline, and you are not left two days before it is due with nothing done. Build some flex time into the deadline. For example, allow yourself an extra day or two before the final paper has to be submitted after you write the final draft of the paper. Snags in projects invariably arise, so build time into your project time line to account for them.
Work on each element of the paper to get it done before its individual deadline. You will be accomplishing small goals on your way to reaching the bigger one. When you reach the final smaller goal, you will have actually accomplished the entire paper without feeling the stress and strain of waiting until the last minute to do it.
Breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones is an effective method of goal setting. Doing so makes large assignments easier to handle and more realistic to finish on time. Writing down the smaller goals and creating deadlines for them makes it harder to ignore until the day before the assignment is due.
This college freshmen goal setting activity can also be used on more fun-related goals. For example, if you want to go on a road trip with your friends in the summer, write down a list of things you have to accomplish before you leave. For example, you need to figure out who is going, which direction you are going, how much money you need to save before you leave, how long you will be gone and arrange for time off of work if you have a job. As the weeks pass and you accomplish these individual goals, you will feel satisfaction knowing you are taking concrete steps to reaching the final goal, which is to put the top down and start having fun once spring finals are over.