Friday, October 23, 2009

The Art of Procrastination (How to Start and Finish a Paper/Project on it's Due Date)

Aww that's much better, I think this writer's cramp only pertains to my blog, because I have long had the ability, and today was no exception, to start and finish a paper (case study) on the day that it was due, while still producing quality work (mostly A's and B's). So if you like to procrastinate, or say due to your schedule you only have a 5-10 hour window your whole weekend in which to complete a paper or a work presentation, power point, etc. here are some helpful hints.

(1) Don't panic. It's okay to feel the pressure as you see the hours and minutes wain away, but it's of vital importance to maintain a clear head, and stay focused on the task at hand.

(2) Stay on point. Papers/case studies/projects/presentations aren't about what kind of bullshit you can come up with, but about staying on point, and addressing the questions, issues, and concerns that your professor, boss, or client want to see addressed. Don't waste any of your precious time trying to "fluff" up your work with meaningless information and random data, but aggressively attack your key points and arguments. It's not about quantity, but quality.

(3) Make an argument, and vigorously support it with confidence.

(4) Take some breaks. The longer you go without a break, the more you are going to resent the work you are doing, so take some snack, tv, or internet breaks, to give yourself some variation in the day, and relax your brain.

(5) Get in "the zone". While you can still produce decent work without it, you will not produce top quality work unless you get in the zone at some point during the day. Sometimes all it takes is writing a certain sentence well, or listening to your favorite song (again I stress variation in the day, or listening to classical/relaxing music while you write) to get in the zone. Once you get there, do not stop writing, just write anything and everything that comes to your head, because most of it will be pure gold, and you can always make corrections later.

(6) Don't second guess yourself. Most of the time your first instincts are going to be the right ones, and while it's important to edit your work, trust your instincts not just in your work, but in everything in life, because they are usually right.

(7) Set benchmarks for yourself throughout the day. Let's say you need to write 10 pages in 10 hours, well then set yourself on a page an hour (maybe write 2 pages in an hour and a half, then give yourself a half hour lunch and tv break). Breaking the work up into segments rather than looking at the big picture will help you stay focused and level headed.

(8) Practice makes perfect. I started sophomore year of college, and was terrible at first, but kept getting better and better at it, and am now an absolute master of my craft.

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