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Remember: asking for clarification because you don’t understand the assignment doesn’t make you stupid; what’s stupid is to complete the assignment without understanding it.
“One more source” can easily turn into hours that you could have been writing.
To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.
As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.
In Cal’s words, the flat outline works as follows: Isn’t this so much better?
Starting in college, I developed my own outlining technique that was much more effective.
As it turns out, my technique wasn’t so original after all.Students would spend hours researching and writing a paper on a completely different topic than what the professor assigned.It doesn’t matter how good a paper is–if it doesn’t answer the question, it’s going to receive a bad grade.Best case scenario, the professor is nice and lets you rewrite it, but why do all that extra work?Furthermore, asking the professor for clarification shows initiative–that you care about the assignment.Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.Once you understand the assignment, you need to start researching. If you’re not careful, research can be one of the best ways to procrastinate.This let me spend more time on things that I enjoyed, such as writing for this blog and taking long walks through the woods. The ultimate waste of time when writing a paper is to write something that doesn’t even answer the question the professor is asking.Today, I’m going to share this process so that you too can write papers more quickly (without a decrease in the quality of your writing). Don’t be afraid to ask the professor to explain any part of the assignment that’s unclear.For a full guide to creating a distraction-free study space, check out our article on the topic.In the meantime, here’s a summary of the best practices: Each paper you write should not feel like reinventing the wheel.