Avoid Procrastination on Term Paper

Term papers or research papers are certainly a task that can be easy to procrastinate on because they are work and not the most enjoyable part of most college classes. Unfortunately, procrastination leads to more stress, hectic evenings, and possibly even poor grades.  In order to prevent these situations, college students need to follow these tips and completion of the term paper will seem easy.

Prepare a calendar with deadlines

One the most important steps is to prepare a deadline calendar.  Set up a calendar in Microsoft Word that will give you a reminder each day of what should be accomplished. Also, print the calendar and post it on the wall near the desk area. This gives the student a clear reminder of what should be done each day in order to finish on time.

Gathering sources

Once a topic has been chosen, the next step is to gather as many sources as possible that meet the requirements as set by the instructor. Despite the desire to keep articles electronically, the best thing to do is print the online sources that after reading them seem the most valuable.  If it is an article in which one fact will be used, those can easily be saved into a folder for reference if needed. By printing out the sources and gathering books on the subject matter, it makes the student feel like something has been accomplished.  Schedule a couple days just for gathering sources.

Read, highlight, and tab the sources

The next step is to read the sources. While reading, mark the areas that seem of value.  That doesn’t mean wearing the highlighter out. Highlight the areas that seem the most worthwhile.  Put sticky notes or tabs of designated colors to mark subtopics that are similar.  This can be taken to class and completed in increments between classes. Take about one week just to read, mark and clarify ideas.  In order to write a quality paper, the student needs to understand the topic thoroughly.

Works Cited

The next step is to take the sources that appear to be quality sources that will be used in the paper and create a working list of sources.  This means that if a source is used it can easily be moved into the current list. If a source isn’t used then it should remain only on the master list. Take a couple days to create the works cited list. Then documenting in the paper will be easy because by using the references tab in Microsoft Word will allow students to click the source to insert the citation. Try to complete this in one to two days, but be prepared to add sources later if needed.

Develop an outline

This is probably the step most students would prefer to ignore.  The reason this is the difficult part is that it is the thinking part of the paper. This is where the write decides which facts, quotes and other data prove specific points.  If the information doesn’t prove a point then it should be eliminated from the paper. This keeps the student from having a rambling and randomly ordered paper.  Allow one to two days for this step.

Drafting the paper

Allow at least one week for drafting the paper.  Try to work a couple hours each day on the drafting portion. Make sure to add the sources in the draft as it is being written to avoid more work later.

Final presentation

Create a final presentation of the paper with all of the required components requested by the instructor including the works cited page.  Allow one day for this portion of the paper.


Make sure that the paper has been gone over stringently. Proofread the paper several times and then take the paper to someone else to proofread.  Fresh eyes see mistakes that a writer overlooks.  Even professional writers have proofreaders.  Make sure this person is give adequate time to read it. Allow two- three days for proofreading and revising.

Budget time for activities and other classes

It is important to realize that there will be other activities and classes that will have demands too. When creating the due date calendar, make sure to leave time for activities that may make it so a student is unable to work on a particular day. Don’t schedule three hours to type the paper if it is necessary to study for another class or be scheduled at a part-time job.  Allow time for these items that will make the schedule become off track.

Be disciplined

No schedule is foolproof, but a student also has to be disciplined enough to complete the required component for the day before going on to other recreational activities.  If a student does get off track, it is important to catch up as soon as possible, but it is better to maintain the schedule and discipline efforts on the term paper.

Completion of a term paper is actually not difficult at all, if a student is disciplined to follow a schedule. Procrastination can be a habit of the past and new habits can take its place