Once you're given an assignment, break it down into its component tasks and give each one a deadline. Hit the library early - the books you need may be on loan. Allow extra time in case your thinking changes. Some lecturers will allow consultation before the due date to talk through your ideas.
If you do these things, you'll win the University Medal for being the only thorough person in your course. For everyone else, here are some tips to fudge your way through.
If you're having difficulty with an assignment, ask your teacher - but during their office consultation hours or via email. Don't ask them during class in front of everyone else - that's what mature-age students do, and seeming too keen is social death at uni.
Give yourself incentives
Instead of watching the new series of Homeland when you're supposed to be doing your ancient history essay, accept that you'll inevitably watch Homeland because it's awesome, but only allow yourself to view another episode whenever you chalk up another 1000 words. Your assignment will be done in no time. And, just as importantly, you'll know that the US government is in safe hands.
Realistically, you will start some - if not all - of your assignments at the last possible moment. For some, that will be the night before the due date; for a brave few, it will be the night after the due date.
Some students can stay up late, some can rise early, and some can survive with no sleep at all. Adrenalin will help as the deadline approaches, and don't rely on anything stronger than tea or coffee because instead of writing about the female other in romantic poetry, you'll turn in an essay about the ants that are crawling around inside your skull.
Know the system
Some students fraudulently obtain medical certificates to gain extra time to complete assignments they were too disorganised to start early. This cannot be condoned. But sometimes freak ailments befall even the most honest student. And let's just say that sometimes a bad cold can be somewhat convenient. Be prepared - find out what you need to do for ''special consideration'' before you're confined to your bed of woe.
Ask for mercy
Sometimes you'll lose track of time in the pub or get stuck consoling a dumped housemate. That's life or, at least, that's student life.
If you're having problems finishing your assignments, your teachers will almost certainly be understanding - and if they aren't, that's what student support services are there for. Just don't invent an elaborate lie, such as a relative's funeral - it's too easy to get caught out unless you have access to coffins and/or a graveyard.
Be honest about having problems with your workload, and hope that your teacher remembers what being an undergrad was like. The worst that can happen is you'll fail, which, admittedly, is pretty bad.
If in doubt, try boosting your morale by remembering that once you graduate, you'll never do a formal assignment again - just informal ones, every day of your working life.