5 Steps to Breaking Down Large Assignments and Projects

Getting a 20 page paper or other large project can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start, which leads to procrastination, which leads to more overwhelm, which leads to more procrastination. 


Breaking down those large assignments into doable chunks can help you get out of that cycle before it begins! 


  1. Make a list. Write down all of the steps to completing the project. For example, if you are writing a 20 page paper, what are the steps? 1. Decide on a topic 2. Research the topic. 3. Write an outline. 4. Complete a rough draft. 5. Edit and polish. 6. Turn in. 


  1. Write down the action items. Now that you know the steps, what do you need to do to accomplish each step? If you need to decide on a topic, you’ll need to: 1. Brainstorm a list of ideas, 2. Narrow ideas down based on interest, 3. Do preliminary research 4. Eliminate topics that don’t have enough information about them 5. Decide on the topic. 


  1. Get out your calendar/Planner. Now that you have a list of each step and the action items needed to get it done, put it in your planner or on your calendar. Start from the due date and work your way back. If you have 3 weeks to write the paper, you should spend week 1 deciding on the topic, researching it and writing the outline, week 2 writing your first draft and week 3 editing and polishing it. Once you know what you need to accomplish in a week, break it down and do one or two actions steps per day. 


  1. Build in breaks. After you complete a step or action item, take a break! Do something fun, go for a walk, watch a show. Or even plan a full day off from the project each week to let your mind rest. 
  2. Get an accountability partner. Find a classmate that you can check in with about how your project is going and find out about how theirs is going. This can help you stay on track and also provide you some encouragement when you feel overwhelmed. You may also trade papers with this person to get some feedback or support with editing. 


Big projects don’t have to be overwhelming. If you get organized and take them one step at a time, you can tackle big projects with ease.

by Stacy Brown

Published December 7, 2021

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