Ankle deep in sorting out literature and methods for your thesis, analysing whatever it is you are analysing, and what not. At the same time, working on the last courses and busy writing your thesis? That can sometimes cause quite a bit of stress. Frankly, it is causing a lot of stress. Mid-term exams are coming up in a week or so. For some that means, your courses will be finished, meaning – exams, course work, and papers need to be done before the end of March 2021. I thought it would be interesting to update and expand my knowledge on the topic I am writing my thesis on. This meant working full time, writing a thesis for the zillionth degree, volunteering, and on top of that taking some extra classes. Judging by the hyperventilating fellow students I had on the phone over the last days, including my own teary calls made, the following 7 tips might lead to optimal results without crashing on the floor.
- Choose a topic that interests you. Writing a thesis on a topic that doesn’t really interest you is incredibly difficult. It quickly feels boring and you become less productive. I hope my previous blog post on choosing a topic was useful! If you are stuck with a topic which lets you crawl under your desk, or binge watch Grey’s Anatomy one more time, talk with your supervisor! No shame in changing your topic. The news might be of inspiration.
- Make a schedule. Since things always come up that you cannot foresee, it is necessary to allow plenty of time in your planning for the things you need to do. If something comes up, you still have enough time to get everything done. I went as crazy to even plan in my weekly social time, and the necessary feeding slots. Or the lil’ breaking down to question why you decided to take all these extra courses, or do this degree in general. I have to say, it is working out for me.
- Keep in touch with your thesis supervisor. Do not hesitate to email your supervisor about all the questions you have, after all, a supervisor is there to support you in writing your thesis! It seems my fellow students are ranging from having supervisors who start with stating, they have no clue about the topic so they will learn along the way, to getting an exhaustive literature list send to them, to enthusiasts who advise them on every step of the way. I think my own supervisor is becoming my next best friend for the coming months.
- Apply a clear structure and layout to your thesis. Make an outline for yourself in which chapters and topics you want to divide your thesis, you will see that writing becomes a lot easier. It helps you to stay focused as you only have to search for information per sub-topic. You will see that in this way it remains clear for yourself what you are doing. I bought a special notebook with tabs in there, using every tab for a chapter to keep my notes structured and findable.
- Sort your sources from step one. Immediately file the sources you are using in a bibliography. Immediately place footnotes and state clearly for yourself which page numbers or considerations in the source you use for your thesis. This way you prevent that at a certain point you no longer see the wood for the trees and end up committing plagiarism.
- Read the documents you write regularly. You will see that you will run into a lot of mistakes. Writing and rewriting often makes you overlook language errors. A beautifully written thesis without spelling mistakes is half the battle! Also, do not shy away of using an editing service once you are done.You do not want anyone to be distracted from your amazing research.
- Keep your cool and do not forget breaks. As mentioned before, you become less sharp after a long time behind your computer. If you take regular breaks, you will see that you are much more productive and do better quality work – and it reduces stress. There are a lot of helpful apps out there if you need some support with that. Healthy stress is good, it keeps you productive and sharp. It is also not bad at all if you sometimes get stuck and do not know how to proceed. Do not give up!