If you have to start on a project but you don't know where to start, you might want to try starting from the end for a change!


If you're like many students, you sometimes have trouble getting started on a project, because the end result seems so far away and impossible to reach. Sometimes, when you start out with an idea and a blank sheet of paper and look into the future, all you can see is lots and lots of unfinished research, reading, planning, and work.


Through a process called backward planning, you may be able to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the steps between you and a finished product.


It starts with your imagination and a calendar. Sit in a quiet place and close your eyes, and imagine your project completed--and with a great passing grade. Now, open your eyes and write "project completed" on the day before your project is due.


Next, take a close imaginary look at your project and analyze the parts. How many sources, paragraphs, diagrams, experiments were necessary?Make a note of each one.



Next, determine how much time it took to complete each part. Count the days or hours and write that down. Then count backward from your completed project and mark a deadline for starting each part.



The point of this method of planning is taking a new look at your work timeline. Deadlines are difficult to assign and even tougher to stick to.


If you look at your project from a "finished" point of view, you can see more clearly the necessity of sticking to self-imposed time tables.


This method takes some practice and time to get used to, but you may find that it helps you overcome the anxiety of starting from nothing.


If you start with a finished project and count backwards, the hurdles and deadlines may pass more easily.