As some of you may know, it is my intent to attend graduate school after I’ve entered the workforce and gained some experience outside of an academic setting. Something both thrilling and terrifying is the amount of writing I will be doing. It is no secret that I am a recovering procrastinator. My procrastination comes from various factors in my life, but during my college career, I have found ways to cope with some of the side effects that come from being a procrastinator and having to edit papers under such pressure.
Wait a Few Days
If your work is due on Wednesday, start writing on Monday. When you come back on Wednesday, you’ll have a fresh pair of eyes and will be able to catch things you may have missed in the heat of the moment. This may not work for everyone, but as someone who likes to work on multiple projects at once, this is helpful.
Print Your Work
I know digital technology is the here & now and killing trees is bad, but this is why we recycle after our papers are all marked up. But seriously, before you hit the submit button, hit the print button and read over your work. You might find a missing comma or awkward sentence structure on your digital copy.
Utilise Online Tools
A saving grace for me has been online tools. My favourite site to double check my citations is Purdue OWL. It is something I’ve been using since high school, but it stays up to date and gives me an accurate example of proper citations. Sure the site appears to be stuck in the 90s, but it covers everything from citations to format to minor career preparation.
Another tool I was recently acquainted with has been Grammarly. It is a tool which will proof your work and offer suggestions based on an algorithm to have a stronger finish product. My professors are always telling me to be concise and cut out the fat and using the premium version had helped me delete the unnecessary filler words. It’s compatible with Microsoft Word and Outlook, so you don’t have to copy and to paste to another window to get things done. If you opt for the basic version as I originally did, you still receive grammar, spelling, and vocabulary improvements. This may sound minor, but you’ll notice having more concise writing will add authority to your voice.
Get a List from Your Buddies
This tip came from a former professor. She is a reformed procrastinator like myself and something useful from graduate school was getting her friends who often proofread her work to create a list of common errors they spotted. She compiled the list and used it as a reference guide during her editing process. This way she knew what errors to keep an eye out for.
We often become so accustomed to our voices that we miss small errors My list is slowly growing, but I have certainly noticed a change in my work now that I know what to look for.
This is a growing list for me, but it is a good starting point for all the current or recovering procrastinators looking to submit legitimate and sound work under time constraints. As I find new tips and tricks, I will share them with you, and I hope you will share them with me in the comments, via email, or Twitter. We are only as strong as our networks and knowledge we use.
Until Next Time,