As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.
Spending any more time than this puts you at a point of diminishing returns. If you find that you need more info after you start writing, you can always do more research.
The goal of your initial research session is to give you just enough material to start writing.
Starting in college, I developed my own outlining technique that was much more effective.
As it turns out, my technique wasn’t so original after all.
Students would spend hours researching and writing a paper on a completely different topic than what the professor assigned.
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It doesn’t matter how good a paper is–if it doesn’t answer the question, it’s going to receive a bad grade.Get into the library or database, find your sources, take your notes, and then get to writing.“It’s impossible to figure out every detail of your argument before you sit down, look at your sources, and actually try to write.Most students abandon their hierarchical outline soon after their fingers hit the keyboard.”– Cal Newport, “How to Use a Flat Outline to Write Outstanding Papers, Fast”Ever since I learned the traditional method of outlining papers in 8th grade, I felt the system was broken.Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.Once you understand the assignment, you need to start researching. If you’re not careful, research can be one of the best ways to procrastinate.For a full guide to creating a distraction-free study space, check out our article on the topic.In the meantime, here’s a summary of the best practices: Each paper you write should not feel like reinventing the wheel.“One more source” can easily turn into hours that you could have been writing.To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.The flat outline works because it mirrors the writing process.No one sits down to write with a perfect idea of what they’re going to say.