For large projects-such as essays, term papers and especially group assignments, you will need to develop a project plan.
Consider the due date
When is the assignment due? Move that date forward at least one day to allow time for events outside your control, such as a printer not working, password problems, lost internet connections or your computer deciding to corrupt every file on your hard drive. All of these things have happened to U of S students! Hint: always make a backup copy-or two!-especially for important papers. You can copy your file to your file storage space on Cabinet (access through PAWS), save on a USB stick, or e-mail the file to yourself.
Think about the steps to complete the project
For example, writing a paper requires the following steps:
- Choose a topic - 1 day (Do preliminary research to ensure that the topic is viable, then narrow the topic)
- Research the topic - 10 days
- Prepare an outline - 1 day
- Write a rough draft - 1 day
- Revise the rough draft - 5 days (Do a final edit to check grammar and mechanics)
- Work on other projects while someone (i.e., ULC Writing Help, professor, tutor, friends, etc.) reviews the paper and offers suggestions for improvement - 7 days
- Complete the final revisions - 3 days
- Proofread and print - 1 day before
(Warning: Printers and computers seem to sense when a paper is due and chose that time to malfunction!)
If the type of project is new to you, allow extra time for the double learning curve-not only will you be completing that type of assignment for the first time, you will also have to learn to use the tools required to complete that assignment.
Assign due dates for each step of the project
Estimate how long each step will take, then work backwards from your due date, assigning due dates for each step of the project. You can use the Project Planner (PDF) template to keep track of this information, or you can simply record the steps on a file on the computer. (The computer file is more versatile than the paper version, especially if you happen to think of the necessary tasks in random order instead of chronologically.) More sophisticated project planners, such as Gantt charts, are available on the web.