Writing a research paper is a big deal. It can heavily affect the grade you receive at the end of the semester, and in the case of a dissertation, it can affect your future. It’s important to get your paper right, no matter what it is you’re writing about.
However, that doesn’t mean you should focus 100 percent of your attention on your paper until it’s done! It takes weeks, months, and in some cases, years to complete a research paper. It’s not healthy to think about it and work on it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s important to find balance while you’re writing your paper. Not only will it help you experience less stress, it can actually make your paper better.
Shorten and Simplify What You Can
When something is as important as your research paper, it’s normal to overthink and overwork it. Why make your paper more complicated than it has to be?
When you’re working on your paper, you should always be thinking about what you can do to shorten and simplify it without taking away from the point you’re trying to make.
For example, you can decrease the length of your research abstract by cutting out hedge words, adverbs, and transition words. Writing less words means saving time, and it means less to edit later.
Make a Writing Plan and Stick to It
In high school, and even when you first got to college, you may have sat down and written a paper the night before it was due. That’s not going to cut it if you’re writing a research paper. Writing a good one takes a lot of time, which means you have to develop a research paper timeline.
A good timeline includes:
- A research and reading stage
- Time to sort and mark your research
- Time for writing and formatting
It should also include time for editing, and if you have an abstract or a citation page, you may want to set aside time to focus on just that information.
Once you have made your plan, stick to it. Give yourself a little breathing room by scheduling in more time than you think you need for each step so you don’t fall behind when something else comes up.
Take Time to Relax and Have Fun
Writing a research paper is stressful. A little bit of stress can push you to create the best paper possible, but if you’re too stressed, the opposite will happen—you’ll end up with a bad paper.
It’s important to take time away from your paper to relax. That might mean taking a long bath or carving out enough time every morning to meditate.
Having fun is important too! There are many ways you can squeeze a little fun into your life, even if you’re working on a research paper. Take the afternoon off to see a movie, go on a picnic with a friend, or fly a kite.
Stop Thinking About It!
Writing a research paper can take up a lot of time, and the time you aren’t writing your paper is likely dedicated to thinking about your paper. Even if you’re doing something relaxing or fun, it’s normal for thoughts of your research to pop into your mind.
It’s important to spend time each day not thinking about your research paper. That includes telling yourself that you’re not going to think about your paper when a thought pops up, and having strategies to redirect your attention if your paper does pop into your head. If you truly take time away from thinking about your research, you’ll come back to it refreshed and ready to get to work.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Writing a research paper is long, hard work. It’s not something you have probably done a lot of either. It’s easy to feel unconfident in what you’re writing.
If you could use a little extra help, check out writing resources online or seek help from a mentor. You may also be able to attend a writing workshop where others can look over your paper and provide you with feedback to make it even better.
It may not be writing assistance you need help with. Seeing a therapist can help you work through your stress and anxiety while you’re working on such an important paper.
Writing a research paper should take a good chunk of your time, but it shouldn’t consume your life. Use these tips to find balance while you’re working.