Lessons About Life & Study TIPS: Condensing A Lot Into a Short Amount of Space

One of the biggest lessons I have learned so far working on my MBA is the concept of taking a lot of scholarly resources and condensing the information into a short discussion post or short paper.  A short paper meaning 500-1000 words.  This is funny considering that when I completed my associates and bachelor’s papers were a big deal.  Every one was a monumental task, but now.  Well it’s just what you do in your master’s.  You write.
So when it’s time to write the 10 page paper you are almost relieved.  You mean I get to spread things out.  I don’t have to work so hard to condense this information into a short amount of space.
I am learning a lot, however, by studying a lot of resources and condensing them into a short amount of space.  Things that I think can help us in our everyday lives.  Think about this:
  1.  Find your resources
    • I either open the web page of my course with the paper information or I write down the questions or themes that I need to address. (Set your goals where you can see them)
    • I obtain resources that are specific to what I need to achieve.  It takes time.  I don’t get resources and hope they fit.  I match them.  Looking at articles and the requirements for my paper at the same time. This saves so much time.
    • I go ahead and get the citation information at this time.  (It’s always harder to look back)
    • I email myself a copy of the resources and file them in a folder or somewhere where it’s easy to find.
  2. Take notes on them.  For a short paper, limit notes to one page (9.5×6 paper) (Take note of what is happening in you life, write it down.)
    • Look at the questions you have to answer in the paper when reading.  Pull what you need to answer and substantiate your paper.  Master’s students should be looking for the “beyond”.  Pull in new ideas or opinions that are contrary to what you are learning.  We are bringing together our skills we picked up in our associates and bachelor’s.  It’s time to kick it up a notch.
  3. Write the citation on the notes for quick reference (Pedersen, 2017) (We need reminders)
  4. Open Word or Pages and get the formatting set.  (Knock things out along the way)

Notes for the Journey

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you didn’t get enough or the wrong resources. Admit it, accept it, move on.  Just get what you need.  Don’t try to pull information from a resource that doesn’t fit.
  • Remember that you are learning the material as you go.  I wrote a 10 page paper about the aggregate supply and demand curve.  I really had no idea what that was, but as I started reading my resources I started to understand.  I then realized what resources I needed to answer the questions in my paper.
  • If it’s on the notes page then it needs cited.  Don’t spend too much time noting what needs a citation.  It’s notes from a resource. It’s not mine.  Cite it.
  • How important are some words?  Sometimes I get stuck when I don’t need to. Is the word “nominal” important to the meaning of the term?  I don’t know.  Some articles say nominal money supply and some say money supply.  Use some common sense and do some smart google searches to determine if there is a difference.  The level and context of the paper might make words like that important, but it might not. Make a choice and move on.  That’s what we do every day?  Right.  Make spaghetti or order Chinese?  The money for the week is low and I have the ingredients for spaghetti.  Spaghetti it is.
  • Star key ideas in your notes.  Sometimes you just find the answer and you know it. Star it so later it will pop out to you.  Saves time.
  • Bullet information making it easy to read later.  Stratify information.  Piece it apart for quick reference.  Pull bullet points out of sentences.
  • The author will  eventually make the key point, somewhere.  Look for it.

Life is a jumbled mess of information.  We can pull that information together and make something out of it.  We can answer the questions, organize our thoughts and produce something meaningful.  Find the resources you need, take notes (journal), give credit where credit is due (we can’t do this thing alone), and open up a new page and put it altogether.  It will work. Do it.

Marcy Pedersen

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