Writing Tips – Short on Time or Lacking Motivation?

Can you believe that we have about a month left of the fall semester? Most of you are probably working on your final papers and, studying for mid-terms and/or finals, and some may even be thinking about graduate school application. I can imagine the anxiety and panic that you may be feeling due to the amount of school work that you have to finish. I am in the same boat as you. Though I only have two classes this semester, our term papers are very long and our projects are cumulative of everything that we learned this semester. Plus, we have a seminar paper that we have to get approved by our department in order to graduate. This means that in addition to our semesterly classwork/projects and papers, my peers and I are also independently working on a LONG intervention paper.

Though I have been in school for a while, I still struggle with procrastination. This is especially true when I have to write long comprehensive research papers. Fortunately, due to my academic experiences, I have learned how to counter my procrastination to be able to accomplish my tasks. This semester, I am taking a motivation course and my professor taught us a few strategies to help us write our paper when we are either running out of time or lacking energy or motivation to do our paper. She told us that the key is to break down our paper to small manageable pieces. Thank you Dr. McRae!   

Short on Time?
I recently learned this from one of my current professors who learned about it at the end of her doctoral program.

Step One: Breakdown the different parts of your paper.
Step Two: determine how much time it takes to work on each of the parts and categorize them. You can sort them by coding how much time each section would typically take you (i.e. 1-5-15 minutes, 2-30 minutes to an hour, 3- more than an hour)
Below are some examples of how you can break down a research paper based on how much time it will take.

Outline – 2
Research articles for paper – 2
Annotating articles – 3
References – 1
Revising paper – 2
Step Three: Always take your materials with you or ensure that you have access to them so you can use any spare time you have to work on any components of your paper.

Lacking Motivation or Energy?

Step One: Breakdown the different parts of your paper.
Step Two: Determine how much energy it takes to work on them. You can sort them by coding how much time each section would typically take you (i.e. 1-minimum, 2-medium, 3-maximum)
Below are some examples of how you can break down a research paper.
Outline – 1
Research articles for paper – 2
Annotating articles – 3
Drafting – 3
References – 1
Revising paper -2
Step Three: Always have access to your paper (either hard copies or electronic copies). Whenever you have energy, do those specific parts of the paper according to the level of energy you have that day. That way, you are able to complete even small tasks that will help you complete your research paper.

Notice that all steps for writing a research paper for “short on time” and “lack of energy/motivation” are similar? The only difference is if you are short on time or if you are lacking energy level. As a result, when you are trying to accomplish a big task and you notice that you have been either procrastinating or just do not have a lot of time, it is easier to accomplish any task when you break them down into smaller pieces. This helps you not to become too overwhelmed and anxious. When you break down big tasks in smaller and manageable pieces, you become more motivated to do them because you have higher self-efficacy (your view of how you will be able to do the task) in being able to accomplish them.

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