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Making Molehills out of Mount Doom

By Sophie Lachapelle, third-year Health Studies and Global Development student

Let’s talk about The Lord of the Rings. Frodo the hobbit was given the mission of destroying the One Ring, essentially destroying all evil in the world. As you could expect, the journey wasn’t completed in a one shot attempt. Frodo, with the Fellowship of the Ring, worked tirelessly for months to reach his goal while making sacrifices along the way. As we all know, the Ring was destroyed, Lord Sauron was defeated, and Middle Earth experienced peace once again.

Okay, back to Queen’s University in Kingston for a second. We’re still lamenting the end of Thanksgiving and perhaps recovering from Homecoming Weekend – why are we talking about Lord of the Rings? Although I am a big fan of the movies, there is a lesson to be learned here.

Who has a big project (or two, or five) due sometime in the next seven weeks of class? Ya, me too. Don’t those titles like “Final Term Essay” or “Group Project Discussing Everything We’ve Ever Learned” sound a bit intimidating? I’m sure that Frodo felt the same way when Lord Elrond gave him the Ring to destroy. It would be really easy right now to ride the holiday train a few more weeks and put off starting those mountainous projects. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer grade-weight that this project will have on your final mark, I suggest you follow Frodo’s example: take it one phase at a time. As we say at Learning Strategies, “Make molehills out of mountains.

When I write an essay, I break it into four stages: research, outline, a rough draft, and a final draft. I generally try to leave a week for each stage so that I’m not racing against time two days before the deadline. Frodo and his friends did something similar; their journey was broken up into crossing smaller geographical distances, instead of traversing the whole of Middle Earth in one go. Not only did breaking up the journey re-energize Frodo to take on the next stage, it gave him the motivation and pressure he needed to continue.

Try breaking up your projects into more manageable steps and you’ll be more likely to start them earlier, put more effort into the final results, and finish with a higher degree of satisfaction. If you need some help breaking up your projects, head on over to the Queen’s Learning Commons’ Assignment Calculator and simply enter the desired project start and end dates to see a schedule of smaller, easier-to-complete deadlines!

If you’re like me and you like to see when projects are due ahead of time, print off a couple copies of the Learning Strategies Term Calendar Template! This term calendar will help you visualize each deadline in relation to the others – an important thing to keep in mind when you have more than one final project!

Although these last seven weeks may feel like you’re travelling through Middle Earth on a nearly impossible mission, remember that if Frodo can climb up Mount Doom to destroy the Ring, you can finish this project. You’ve got this.


Photo courtesy of Antoine Skipper under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.