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Four Simple Ways to Write Papers More Efficiently

December 1, 2016
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By GradProSkills

woman writing a paper

With the fall semester coming to an end, assignment deadlines are already knocking on the door. How are you going to finish everything on time? “I have a plan,” you might say. “I am just going to drink more coffee, stock up on frozen food, sleep less, and put a hold on my social life until the end of semester.” Well, that might not be such a great idea. As discussed in our most recent blog post, an unhealthy diet and the lack of sleep and social support will most likely harm your mental well-being, and ultimately your academic performance. So how could you best tackle those pressing deadlines? Well, today’s blog post will equip you with four strategies for writing your papers more efficiently that will not harm your mental health.

1. Decrease procrastination by boosting your motivation

“The more excited I am about a project, the more productive I am,” says award winning author Jo Linsdell. Linsdell's writing is fueled by high levels of intrinsic motivation – motivation that is driven by internal factors such as personal interest. Having trouble motivating yourself to start a paper? Pick a topic that is meaningful and interesting to you. Enjoying writing your paper might help you minimize procrastination and your susceptibility to temptations. What if you have to write on a topic that simply doesn’t inspire you? According to Psychology Today, external rewards can be another great source of motivation. Setting up a reward system is easy. Simply establish a meaningful criterion for success and an appealing treat to serve as an incentive. For example, you might decide to give yourself a 10-minute Facebook-break for every 1000 words you write. If the reward truly motivates you, the pages will soon start piling.

2. Save time with the help of experts

Is searching for academic sources taking you too long? Get help from the Concordia Library. You have a variety of contact options – you can email, call, meet, or even chat with the staff online. Concordia librarians can help you with tasks ranging from finding resources for your paper to acquiring handy library research strategies. There are also other experts you can get help from. For example, investing in a few writing workshops by experienced professionals can significantly speed up the completion of your future papers. Interested in signing up for such workshops? Check out GradProSkills page for upcoming offerings.

3. Free your writing periods from distractions

Good writing has always been challenging, but getting it done while being distracted is almost impossible. If you hope to finish your paper as quickly as possible, it might be a good idea to minimize the distractions around you. If your home is too noisy, you can always study at one of Concordia Library's study spaces. You can choose between silent, zero-noise, and even graduate study spaces (Where you can get your own shelf!). Talking is not permitted in any of these areas, ensuring a peaceful oasis for your writing activities. What if your distractions involve social media? We have a solution for you too. By downloading certain browser extensions, you can temporarily block yourself from accessing specific websites that distract you such as Facebook. If you are a Chrome user, you can check these examples of time-saving browser extensions.

4. Keep your work organized to avoid potential setbacks

Organizing your paper and sources can save you a lot of time and stress in the long run. Below is a list of common problems that organization can fix:

  • Wasting time on merging multiple versions of your paper? Why not switch to using a laptop for writing? This way you can keep working on a single document regardless of whether you are at home or somewhere else. Alternatively, you can work on a single online document. Free services like Google Drive allow you to edit your file from any computer with internet.
  • Managing your sources is taking too long? Try RefWorks. The free service allows you to quickly place your electronic sources in a single online location. The benefit? You will no longer waste time looking for pdfs saved somewhere on your computer. You can even export your references as a bibliography and thus, save time on formatting. Learn more about RefWorks in our upcoming workshop.
  • Wasting too much time double checking if you accidentally plagiarized someone else's work? You can ensure properly cited content with these prevention tips. For example, one strategy is to never paste copied information together with your original content, as you might later forget which is which.

With some advance planning and these 4 strategies you can not only meet your paper deadlines, but you can keep enjoying a good social life and a healthy lifestyle. What is your favorite time-saving strategy when writing a paper? 

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