CAREER & COUNSELLING CENTRE
This info sheet is for students who have to deal with big projects, assignments,
term papers, or oral presentations.
1. First of all, make sure you understand fully what you're being asked to
do. This one sounds obvious but students get themselves in a lot of trouble
by doing projects on the wrong topic. If you've been given a question for a
paper, make very sure you understand the question itself before you begin. If
you're not sure, ask your instructor for clarification. Don't wait to find out from
your mark that you did a very good paper on the wrong topic.
2. Make sure you know critical details like how long the project should be
and when it's due. Again, know this before you start. There's no use doing a
ten-page paper when you've been asked to put the information down in five
pages. Also, knowing when it's due means you can pace yourself, hand the
project in on time and not lose marks.
3. Break the project down into manageable pieces. This is a key strategy
used by almost all successful project managers. For example, a research
paper can be broken down into the following pieces:
Choosing a topic
Putting together a bibliography
Doing research--books, internet, interviews
Making notes on your research
Doing an outline
Doing a rough draft
Editing the rough draft
Doing the final draft
Word processing the final copy
The Counselling Centre 1 Project Management
For an oral presentation, breaking things down might look like this:
Choosing a topic
Doing interviews (if necessary)
Organizing your material
Choosing how you will organize material for verbal
presentation, ex., putting material on cue cards
Run through the presentation checking for things like
timing, how the material "flows," and to make sure that
what you've done covers the requirements of the
Rehearse with an audience, get feedback
Ensure that all audio/visual aids are available, well-
organized, and working
Take some time to break your project down, and you'll likely come up with
even more steps than this. Now instead of just working on this huge,
overwhelming project you've got a series of manageable steps to tackle one
at a time.
4. Decide when you're going to work on each piece. Create a schedule. Using
the example of the research paper, your schedule could look something like
End of week two: decide on topic and discuss with instructor
Wednesday of week three: put together bibliography
Tuesday of week four: complete resource centre research
…and so on, until you've got all your steps in place. Now you've got a specific
plan with mini-deadlines to keep you on track.
5. Note how you're doing, by checking off steps as you complete them. Give
yourself rewards for completing steps. Finished that outline? Cross it off and
treat yourself to a night out.
6. …and finally, hand that paper in, do that oral presentation and feel the
satisfaction of a job well done.
The Counselling Centre 2 Project Management