I have final papers due in multiple classes this semester. What are some strategies for managing a seminar project effectively?

Time management is an important aspect of earning any degree. You’ve probably had multiple projects due in one semester at other times, but you may not have had a number of large projects all due at once. This can be overwhelming, and sometimes due dates can sneak up on you because the end of the semester can seem so far away. Because graduate writing often includes extensive research, you might consider using some of these tips to help you as you work on multiple projects:

  • Make sure you know when the due dates are for each project. Often we are rushed at the end of the semester, so knowing when each project is due and in what order can help you prioritize which project to work on first. Also, some projects might be divided up into smaller sections that are due earlier. For example, you might need to turn in a proposal in October for a project due in December.
  • Start early. The semester is only 16 weeks, so it’s a good idea to get started early so that you have enough time to do research and write about it. As you look at your due dates, you might make some self-designed due dates to make sure you stay on track. For example, for a paper due in the last week of the semester, you might decide that you want to have a literature review drafted by 8th or 9th week of the semester. For multiple projects you might stagger these self-designed due dates, and/or you might decide which days of the week you are going to work on certain projects.
  • Talk to your professor early also. Once you have a couple ideas about what you might work on for your project, you should meet with your professor during his or her office hours so that they can give you feedback and suggest sources. Also, if you set a self-designed due date for any rough draft of the project, you should meet with your professor to talk about your progress so far.
  • Talk to someone else about your project or a draft. Sometimes when we work on projects, we get deeply involved in them and terms or ideas that seem to need no explanation can confuse another reader. Having someone else read over a draft or listen to our ideas can help us to clarify the purpose of our projects, as well as the ways we support the claims in our projects.

These steps can help you better manage the complex process of working on a large project and multiple projects. Also, it can help you to create better developed projects because it allows you to spend more time with the ideas.

What can the Writing Center do to help?

We can work with you at any stage of the writing process. If you have multiple projects, we can talk with you about what might need to be done to prepare for each project and help you create a plan for completing each part of the projects. We are also able to help you clarify your ideas and help you work with and respond to research, either individual sources or as part of the process of writing a literature review. And, of course, we are happy to look at drafts of your project. Whatever the project, we recommend that you make an appointment early so that you can give yourself enough time to develop your ideas and incorporate feedback.