#1 Don’t Let It Get You Down
You will most likely encounter many roadblocks when writing your paper. No matter how prepared you are for them, they still come as a surprise. The most important thing to remember is the following: write the paper anyway! Sure, this is easier said than done, but try not to let one failed experiment or uncooperative lab mate affect your morale too much. If you do flunk out on one stage of research, don’t give up right then and there. Go home and renew yourself with some good ol’ TV time before giving it another shot tomorrow. In fact, sometimes even bad experiences can provide useful insights that might not have been made otherwise! After all, if you never ran into these obstacles, you would still be sitting at your desk thinking that you will never get anything done.
#2 Keep to a Schedule
For many people, writing is one of the least favorite activities to do in life (second only after cleaning). However, like it or not, research papers are very time-consuming works and often require much more effort than originally anticipated. Therefore, it’s important to keep up with your schedule if you wish to finish on time. Set up milestones for yourself by estimating how long it will take for you to write certain parts of the paper. Not only does this help prevent overworking yourself while trying to meet impossible deadlines, but it also makes sure that your work gets progressively better as you move along through each stage.
#3 Leave Room for Editing and Proofreading
As you rush to meet those deadlines, take notice how much editing and proofreading you’re doing. If you find yourself skimping on these two steps, chances are your paper will not be up to par with the other research reports that professors expect. While it is important to respect your deadlines (especially as a first-year grad student), do yourself a favor and leave some “breathing room” for taking care of small issues before they become big problems. The more time you give yourself, the better your report will be!
#4 Know When to Take a Break
Like we mentioned above, writing can be very tedious and tiresome at times–and since writing a good report requires a lot of thought and time, it’s only normal to feel drained after several hours. If you find yourself feeling exhausted with your work (and often disinterested in writing altogether), try taking a break and coming back to it later. You might be surprised at what you can come up with when you take some time off!
Of course, this is not an excuse for procrastinating on your assignments late into the night… As much as we would like to think so, our minds don’t magically get better when we sleep on them! So if you really want to do well on your paper, make sure that it is finished before bedtime. Don’t leave things “for tomorrow,” because there is always the chance that “tomorrow” never comes.
#5 Reward Yourself!
Once you finally finish your report, make sure to give yourself a well-deserved celebratory treat. After all, writing is hard work and it’s important to take the time to appreciate your efforts. Whether this means buying yourself some new clothes or just cooking up your favorite dish–do something that makes you happy for once! And remember, no matter how complicated things seem at first, there’s nothing stopping you from accomplishing your dreams–so go ahead and start achieving them now!