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Use a Project Planner to Get That Paper Done on Time


The assignment is a 25 page paper. Or a 100 page thesis. Or to design and carry out one or several research projects and write them up as a 200 page dissertation. Overwhelming? Yes. But don’t let the size of these projects paralyze you.

Break it Down
Papers and other projects can seem overwhelming at first. Most time management experts agree that the best way to tackle a large project is to break it into its component tasks. So, for example, writing a term paper entails many small steps: finding a topic, locating research, reading, and writing. Each of these tasks can also be broken down into component tasks. Locating research, for example, can include tasks such as internet research, searching library databases, getting books, getting articles, and downloading and ordering materials. Looking at the big picture, writing a huge paper, and the product – many, many pages, can leave you unsure of where to begin and keep you from beginning.

List the Small Steps
How do you get organized and begin a huge project? Stop looking at it as one big goal. Instead, chart out all the small things you need to do to complete this task. Divide the project into many small, well-defined tasks. Tackle each tasks and you’ll slowly chip away at your term paper, thesis, or dissertation. Take a look at this example of how one student broke down a research paper into its component tasks. In this example, the research paper assignment is broken into multiple small tasks, such as finding a paper topic, doing library research, and so on. Then each task is broken down into its subtasks. Finding a topic, for example, takes several small steps. Outline those steps, such as speaking with the professor, scanning the textbook, and so on. Download and use this form to plan your own assignments and projects and you’ll find it easier to make slow and steady progress on major assignments – without feeling overwhelmed. When students plan well and follow their plans, they feel a greater sense of control and it shows in their work.

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