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The flat outline works because it mirrors the writing process.No one sits down to write with a perfect idea of what they’re going to say.
Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.
Once you understand the assignment, you need to start researching. If you’re not careful, research can be one of the best ways to procrastinate.
Even as someone who basically writes papers for a living these days (like this article), I still viewed every college paper with a tinge of dread.
After all, writing a paper isn’t like working math problems or reading a chapter of a book.
As I explained in my guide to library research, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper researching.
That is, if the paper is supposed to be 5 pages, don’t spend more than 2.5 hours on research (maximum).
For a full guide to creating a distraction-free study space, check out our article on the topic.
In the meantime, here’s a summary of the best practices: Each paper you write should not feel like reinventing the wheel.
Starting in college, I developed my own outlining technique that was much more effective.
As it turns out, my technique wasn’t so original after all.