By Deborah Vieyra
You know the story. You really want to get going on your fellowship application but just about everything in your life seems to be putting up an obstacle to doing so. It suddenly feels as though the laundry pile has never been so large, as though the workload in your office has never been so great and like your social calendar has never been this full. The deadlines loom closer and you just can’t seem to make any headway.
If you have any procrastinating bones in your body, applying for a fellowship will be a challenge. Applications take time and energy and are best not left to the last minute. The longer you wait to start, the greater the task you are setting for yourself.
Luckily, there are ways to cope with meeting fellowship deadlines that can assist those that have even the draggiest of heels.
Here are our top 3 tips.
#1 Make “internal” deadlines
A calendar is a wonderfully useful thing, particularly when it is populated with information that can help you complete your application tasks in a timely manner. Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify individual application tasks that need to be completed. What do you need to accomplish to get your application in on time? Break your application down into a To Do list of separate items.
- Give yourself a deadline for each item. Allow yourself some breathing room in the timeline you create. Give the necessary amount of time to each task that will let you accomplish it to the best of your ability.
- Map out your timeline on an application calendar. Putting pen to paper (or cursor to screen) will give each deadline a legitimacy and provide a map for you to follow as you move towards that final deadline.
#2 Recruit an accountability partner
Sometimes, doing it alone just won’t cut it. Ask someone you trust — a mentor, a friend, a professor, your roommate — to serve as your accountability partner. All they have to do is check in with you to see if you stuck to your “internal” deadlines. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is. Just knowing that someone will ask you if you have stuck to your goals will trigger just enough guilt to kickstart your work. Sometimes a little bit of guilt can go a long way.
#3 Just write
Getting started is often the hardest part of the journey. You want to write the perfect personal statement. You want to adequately express the thoughts that have had swimming around your head for years. You want to make sure that you portray yourself in the best light possible. You want to get it just right. While a desire for excellence is an admirable quality, it can sometime leave you feeling paralyzed. If you can relate to this, relieve a bit of the pressure with these brainstorming exercises. Allow yourself to just get writing. Tell yourself that your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect — you just need to start.
If you are procrastinating by reading this article, I hope it’s helped to get you going. Rather than continue hopping from one website to another looking for tips, get writing. Everything you need to construct the best application you are capable of is already inside you. Your task is to get going — and with enough time to create the application that you feel does justice to your dreams.
Deborah Vieyra is a Fulbright alumna from South Africa who completed her MA in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. She now works as a writer, proofreader and performer in Vancouver, Canada.
© Victoria Johnson 2018, all rights reserved.