Saturday, March 03, 2007

Time Management Tip: How to Write a Paper in Two Days

So it has happened. You had put your homework off for two weeks now and you find that you have only two days to turn it in. The thought of calling in sick at the day of the deadline crossed your mind but you knew your professor will not buy it. You have also considered saying your computer crashed, but, hey, it's probably the oldest late excuse in the book. You're actually left with no choice but to write that blasted paper in so short a time.

Let's leave the lecture about time management for later and focus on the issue at hand. You have an 8-page reaction paper about a novel that you need to submit in two days and you have not read the book. You have three choices. You can either speed read the book (lucky you, if it's short and interesting), scour the Internet for reviews and papers written about it in the past, or consult a Barron's or Cliff's Notes summary. For the purpose of this article, let's talk about the Internet option.

There is a wealth of information available about anything and everything on the Internet, so you will not have a hard time looking for resources. It is advisable to read reviews and summaries from three or more Web sites for you to get a thorough understanding of the novel, and to make sure you have the right information. Remember that not all Internet sources are reliable, so this multiple-source strategy will set things straight.

You can do that in the first half of day one. Of course, since these already are summaries, it won't take you long to read them and list down the pertinent data. And since you are required to write a reaction about the novel, it really won't take genius to form an opinion.

Talk about the characters' attitudes toward the challenges they faced and how they were able rise above them. Talk about the nature of the time the novel is set and relate it with the protagonists' responses to the conflicts. List down what lessons might be inferred from their experiences. Finally, talk about the human condition or the human-ness of the characters and say something about the author's effectiveness in bringout out the fallibility of man. This you can do in the morning of day two.

By the afternoon, you'll be sitting in front of the computer terminal and writing your paper. You might even be able to submit it hours before the deadline, leaving you enough time for a short coffee shop celebration with a friend or by yourself for this major feat. Why, if you're really bent on making it happen, you can even complete the entire thing in a day.

This all sounds so easy. It really is. The most difficult part in writing a paper is having the courage to actually start. Conquer your demons and accept the fact that you have made a mistake of procrastinating, stop dwelling on the tight schedule and start working, all these while vowing never to make the same error ever again. Of course, common sense will tell you that during these two days of cramming you have to focus only on activities related to your paper. Lay off the party mode first and celebrate later.

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