How To Save Your Time When Writing an Essay
So you need to write an essay fast. There’s nothing to be ashamed of: everyone’s been there at one point or another. If you only have a few hours until your deadline, it’s still possible to write a quality essay and have time to proofread it before submission. You’re going to adopt the right mindset: let go of that feeling of panic, take a deep breath and know that, even if you manage to mess up royally, it’s still going to be fine in the long run. It’s a weird technique for sure, but knowing the stakes are much lower than they seem will give you a cooler brain and make you perform much better.
Get away from everything that distracts you
Take a minute to think up all the things that usually distract you from your work – is it your phone? A certain social network? Is it all social networks? The phone is easy enough to turn off, but you can’t turn off your internet if you’re using it to research your paper. For that, try using a different browser to do all you schoolwork in. If you use Firefox usually, download Opera and only launch it when you’re working – eventually, your brain will adjust itself and associate using a specific browser with productive work, and another with all the fun stuff. For now using a different browser and exercising some restraint will keep you away from all the internet nonsense you don’t need to write your essay.
Do the research
Spend no more than 20% of your time on this. If you’re doing a research-heavy paper, you might need to spend more time on research, but if you’re really running low on time, you’ll have to accept working with sub-par sources. Pick one of each: a reputable study, a book, a documentary, and an article to use for your paper. Even without the documentary (which you don’t even have to watch – just including it in the list of sources and alluding to an interview from it that you saw on YouTube is a nice touch) this is sufficient for a small paper that doesn’t require many sources. Again, if you need to do heavy research and are really pressed for time, grab everything you see.
Plan it out
This might seem like a waste of time, since you’re essentially going to wing it anyway, planning out an essay when you’re writing in a hurry is even more important than doing it under normal circumstances. If your first draft is what you’re going to submit, then it must be at least passably good and coherent, so to prevent veering off and going into a tangent in the middle of your paper, you’ll need to plan it out.
Create a skeleton for your essay – the intro, the body paragraphs and the conclusion. Plan out what goes into each of them. Ideally, before you sit down to actually write your essay, you’re going to have at least one sentence pre-made for each paragraph. For best results, it should be the topic sentence – the one that essentially contains the kernel of what the paragraph is all about.
Write the body, then the rest
Lots of people already find that writing the introductory and concluding paragraphs last is the better way, and do it when they have loads of time. Why? Because they are inherently connected to what the body of the essay is. Writing the intro first – before you’ve fully thought out what the body is going to be – is sure to create a disconnected body and intro paragraph. Likewise with the conclusion that should be obviously left to the end of the writing process.
If you’ve prepared properly, this should be the easy part. Write your essay following the plan you’ve made to a tee, otherwise you’ll end up with an incoherent mess. As you write, take pauses to read back what you’ve written. This will give you a break to collect your thoughts, check your grammar and retain focus of what your main goal for the essay is. Keeping in mind that what you’re going to submit is your first draft, you’ll do yourself a favor by taking a twenty-minute break that you’ll spend away from the screen, giving your brain a rest. Afterwards, read what you’ve written again, and all the small errors you’ve made are going to be much more obvious to you now that you’ve taken the time to step away.
Submit your paper!
The smallest amount of time you’ll need to write a passable paper is an hour, so don’t you fret if you have more than that. Just remember to keep a cool head about it. If you’re writing in a rush, it will definitely come through in your writing and it’s guaranteed to be completely transparent to your professor who reads students’ papers for a living. Good luck!