This week we have some short and sweet prompts to remind you all about that thing you may or may not have been putting off until now. Although it’s easy to lose momentum in the depths of summer when all you really want is to find a beach and drink lemonade and swim with dolphins, the Extended Essay doesn’t get written by itself. The good news is you’re not alone. The less good news is you still have to get on with it.
1. Remember your plan
In this series we’ve been taking you through all the essential steps for completing your Extended Essay. The idea is that if you follow each step as and when you need it, you’ll be able to come out the other side with a brilliant essay that is well thought-through in terms of topic, research, question, plan, and is also written pretty brilliantly.
This guide talks a lot about planning and organisation, but that’s because it is all too easy to lose sight of your plan at any moment. If you feel you’ve dropped the EE ball, devote some time to working out where exactly you are in your process. Are you ahead or behind where you hoped you’d be at this point? How many steps do you need to take before you are holding your glorious first draft in your hand?
The good news is there’s still plenty of time to catch up and get to where you want to be this summer. You just need to do it!
If you didn’t download our Wall Planner in the last post now is the time to do that. Create mini-deadlines throughout the summer for each stage of the process you have left. Do it now!
2. Give your topic some love
Some students have an uncanny ability to keep up the enthusiasm about a topic over an entire year. But most don’t. If you feel like all you want to do with your topic is rip it into conceptual shreds and burn it, it’s time to give it some love.
Go back to your original notes about the topic. The ones you made when you were first grappling in a state of panic, wondering what you cared enough about to write about for 4000 words. Find the original thing that made you realise this research question was ‘the one’. Maybe it was a particularly incredible fact or piece of data, or maybe it was a passage from a novel that made your spine tingle. Whatever it was, it’s worth taking time to consider why you find it inspiring. Better yet, take a blank piece of paper and brainstorm all the reasons why you still find this topic interesting. It might help you remember something you can use as you develop your essay.
3. Plant rewards
This tried and tested technique never gets old. If you feel like that this task is simply too big to feel any real satisfaction from completing parts of it, create fake satisfaction instead!
Remember those mini-deadlines you added to your EE Summer Planner? Add mini rewards right after every deadline (the keyword here is ‘after’). Tell yourself that you won’t be able to get the reward until you have met the deadline you’ve set, and write it into your calendar while making this condition clear.
4. A drop of fear
Do you remember that you fail the IB if you fail to submit an Extended Essay?
5. Use a friend
There is power in numbers. Sometimes using someone else to motivate you is far, far more effective than trying to muster up motivation by yourself. There are different ways you can do this, depending on who the someone else is.
- Co-motivation. This is ideal if you have other friends who are at a similar stage to you when writing their Extended Essay. It’s proven that any given emotion is far easier to pick up when you are with a group of like-minded individuals compared to being by yourself. So make a pact with your friends that you will spur each other on to get that EE drafted. Create a Whatsapp group devoted to EE motivation, arrange to work on your essays together in a library, or send each other motivational inspiration to keep up momentum. (Disclaimer: motivation is not motivation when it’s procrastination)
- Announce your intentions. It’s amazing how much pressure can be created simply by telling a friend, a parent, or your Instagram followers that you are going to finish a piece of work. Right before you sit down to write a paragraph, or do some filler research, tell someone else that you will be finished with this soon so that they can hold you to your word later.
- Use friends as rewards. In the same way, you could schedule in a TV binge, or a chocolate binge, after a significant deadline, arrange a party or a day out with your friends for the day after one of your deadlines. Tell them that not only will you not go if you haven’t met your deadline, but that they should keep checking on you to remind you that you have to meet the deadline before you can join in the fun.
Good luck and stay motivated!