Many students despise writing essays, but it’s not because they despise school. The truth is that writing an essay might take up a significant amount of time, especially if there is a significant amount of research involved.
Some students, predictably, try to save time by copying and pasting their writings from the Internet. This may appear to be a time-saver, but it can lead to a lot of difficulties.
So, how can you save time while writing an essay?
Well, you might be surprised by the response. There is no magic formula for completing an essay quickly, but if you plan your time wisely, you may shave hours, if not days, off the writing process.
Use an outline
The first thing you should do to save time is to make an outline. You’ll need an outline to serve as a template before you write a single word of your essay. You will save time by not having to go back through your notes if you have one.
Here’s a thing that will definitely help writing an essay for college. All of your essay’s “building blocks,” such as your thesis, arguments, and conclusion, will always be in the same location if you use an outline.
When you’re writing, you’ll feel more confident if you’ve already worked out all the essential details.
An outline can be created in a variety of ways, but I recommend using a basic Word document with three headings. The three sections of your paper are represented by these headings: thesis, arguments, and conclusion.
Take ten minutes for each section and jot down as much information as you can (3 sections x 10 minutes = 30 minutes total). You should have a rough thesis statement and conclusion, as well as your key arguments, on the same page of paper before the end of the exercise. Of course, doing your research first is essential so you know what information to fill in.
If you don’t like the traditional format, feel free to get creative. Most teachers do not need students to submit outlines in order to receive credit, which can work in your favor.
You should definitely personalize your outline to fit your thinking style. Make it into a flow chart if you’re a visual person. Use index cards to organize your ideas if you want something more substantial. Just make sure you don’t waste too much time on the finer points.
Limit yourself to no more than 30-40 minutes for an outline for best efficiency.
Stick to a schedule
Students often regard essay writing as a single (and demanding) task. However, there are a number of steps to writing an essay.
There’s the preliminary planning stage, in which you come up with a thesis topic and possibly a core idea. Then there’s the research phase, which is perhaps the most crucial (and time-consuming) step. This is followed by the structuring step, in which you organize your research notes and develop an outline. Finally, there’s the stage of writing and editing.
Trying to integrate all of these various stages into one is one of the most common blunders students make. This is not only practically impossible to accomplish, but it will also take extra time.
Having a bunch of various windows open at once while working on the computer (a browser for research, a Word document for writing, another document for preparing an outline— the list goes on) can be too complicated and distracting.
It’s far more effective to set out time for each individual activity and then commit to not moving on until that work is finished. For example, you might decide to devote 3 hours to research, 30 minutes to drafting an outline, and 2 hours to writing the paper.
Keep track of your time with a timer, a customized schedule, or a productivity app. Don’t take on too many jobs at once, whatever you do.
Isolating the various steps of the essay-writing process will allow you to work considerably more swiftly.
Keep track of your sources
When writing an essay, it’s critical to keep track of your sources, whether style you’re using. It’s easy to put this off until the very end of the writing process, but doing so will cost you a significant amount of time.
I recommend filling out your footnotes and endnotes—even in point form—while you’re writing for maximum efficiency. Make a note of every time you use a direct quotation or paraphrase from another author!
Students frequently believe that they will simply “remember” where they got the information and fill in the specifics afterwards.
However, this can lead to hours of searching for sources during the editing stage, when your energy levels are already low. And if you don’t fill out references while you’re gone, you’ll be more tempted to skip them altogether, which may cost you a lot of points.
The good news is that when you’re creating a draft, you don’t have to fill out all of the references. As you work, I recommend building a system. For example, you may start by merely including the author’s name and page number, then go back and fill in the rest of the publication information once the draft is complete.
Maintain consistency in your formatting at all times. Filling up your references and bibliography at the conclusion of your paper will be a snap if you take good notes.
Write first, edit later
Professional writers all over the world use this strategy: don’t edit as you write! While it may be tempting to correct any awkward wording as you go, over-fine-tuning your work might waste a lot of time.
Before you start editing, work on finishing a whole draft of your essay. Try to write down everything you’ve been meaning to say, including any minor details you’re concerned won’t “fit” anyplace. Then go back to the beginning of your essay and read it slowly again.
Consider each read-through as a different “pass” with a distinct goal. Look for any obvious spelling or grammar issues on the first pass (remember, spell check doesn’t capture everything!)
Pay attention to the flow of your writing during the second pass. This is the time to go over your work and correct any awkward or unclear sentences.
The third pass is referred to as a “content pass” by me. Use this pass to double-check that your arguments are sound and that your evidence backs them up.
Finally, run it through a fourth time quickly to polish the “look” of your paper. Check that the titles, margins, and spacing are all consistent and suitable. Because you’re writing quickly, your essay doesn’t have to be unprofessional.
Multiple “passes” of your manuscript may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually a very efficient way of working. In a single read-through, you’ll never spot every grammatical problem, unclear sentence, and missing footnote.
You’ll work faster and make more helpful revisions to your paper if you isolate the tasks you need to complete in each pass.
The most important thing to remember when writing an essay is to retain a good mindset.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having trouble finishing your job, whether you’re planning an all-nighter or writing weeks before the deadline.
Take frequent breaks away from the computer and maintain a positive attitude while writing. Have a wonderful supper or invite a friend over to assist you with your work. Even if you’ve left it until the last minute, you can complete any essay on time with a little patience and a lot of determination.