Reaching your educational goals often depends on your ability to write. You will need to write many term papers during your college career and may have to complete a capstone project and paper. As a graduate student, the writing load increases. Setting writing goals is crucial, but making your goals specific and measurable will help you reach them.
Overall Long-Term Goal
Establish your long-term goal and general timeline. If you need to complete your final paper one month before the end of the semester, your long-term goal should be to finish your work six weeks before the end of the term. This will give you plenty of time to make last-minute changes. Set milestones for completing individual sections of your work, such as completing your research. If you have two semesters to finish your paper, set aside the first month for research and planning, a month each for five chapters, a month for revision and a month for the final edits and formatting.
Monthly Long-Term Goals
Work on your next set of long-term goals, your monthly goals. Set goals to complete sections of your paper, according to the Yale University Graduate School. If you have one month per chapter, set aside half a week for planning, half a week for the introduction, two weeks for the body and a week for the conclusion. During the planning period, create an outline for your chapter and determine what sources to use and where to use them. As you write, check your progress against your outline to stay on track. Reward yourself as you achieve these smaller goals to stay motivated.
Short-Term Weekly Goals
Set your weekly short-term goals. According to the University of Maryland, you should write at least five days a week, treating your project as a job. Know what you need to complete on a given week according to your monthly plan. If you are working on the introduction section of a chapter, plan two days to write and the third day to edit. For the body, set aside two weeks; plan for seven days of writing and three days of revising. Plan three days to write the conclusion and two to revise. If you have more time to devote to a section, spend a day getting feedback from your professor/adviser or peers before editing. If you complete a section ahead of schedule, get feedback to see what to improve. Keep the momentum going and do not give yourself days off that you did not plan for.
Short-Term Daily Goals
Set your short-term daily goals. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center advises that you set aside between 30 minutes to three hours per day to work on your project. If you have two semesters to work on a 50-page paper, half an hour a day, five days a week will work. If you are writing a 200-page dissertation in the same period, allot three hours per day. Some writers prefer to measure their writing goals by a certain number of words or pages per day, but if you block off a set amount of time, you will have time for other tasks like reviewing your sources as needed and obtaining feedback. Stick to your plan and reward yourself for accomplishing your daily goals at the end of the week.
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