Writing a thesis is surely exciting. Why wouldn’t it be? You are about to enter a whole new world at the end of your long journey of studying and thesis writing. These feelings can get dampened by the struggles that come along the way as you start writing your thesis. Worry not, it’s something you can overcome. With the right effective time management strategies, thesis writing is going to be a rewarding experience. And what’s more: these learnings and the habits that you create during this time will be available to you for the rest of your life!
Writing a Master’s level theses often takes a semester or even longer, depending on the institutional norms. In any case, it’s a time-consuming process that requires you to manage your time, effort, and energy well.
So, how do you keep your motivation level up and not succumb to the long hours of research, writing, and everything in between? A time plan is the first effective time management strategy for thesis writing that needs to be adopted.
An effective time management strategy is to map out a time plan for your thesis. Here is a step-by-step guide on making a time plan for your thesis writing
Importantly: do start from the back. Set a deadline for when you want to hand in your thesis and plan backwards. Note any durations that are outside your control; for example, the time it takes repondents to answer to your survey (plan a minimum of two weeks for this!).
Does this all sound overwhelming?
Let’s take a break and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
This is effective throughout your thesis writing journey. Here’s where the other effective time management strategies for your thesis writing come in. Effective time management strategies help you from being overwhelmed.
The first effective time management strategy that was mentioned above requires a lot of writing and planning. For this purpose, making a thesis journal can be rather productive. The journal you build is not just a place for your thesis writing plan. Like any other journal, you can write your daily goals and reflect upon them at the end of the day. Use it to write about how you could improve your writing for the next session, what worked, and what didn’t. This is an effective time management strategy that keeps making your thesis writing productive every day.
We have all heard the phrase “Consistency is key” and as Chandler Bing from Friends likes to say “could it BE any truer?” Writing daily is the only way to meet the deadlines you have set up for your thesis writing. Writing daily is an important component of having an effective time management strategy. Head over to our free course where we discuss this strategy of building a prolific writing habit in more detail.
Scrolling through social media is an addictive behavior. Our app usage stats are the witness. It is essential to stay focused on the task at hand. Hence, an effective time management strategy for thesis writing is to limit the use of social media and allot an hour or so at the end of each day to go through your emails and social media.
In general, you want to make sure that you know what you spend your time on. This is essential for staying accountable and making real progress; do not get fooled by busy work that keeps you in front of your computer without making any real progress. See our post on time-tracking here.
A thesis is a personal project and it can be very easy to let it slip away. Think of your thesis project as a job that you have to report on. Look at your daily schedule and take the best time out for thesis writing and write it in your journal. Make sure that you take these assigned hours seriously and dedicate your complete focus towards thesis writing during these hours. This is a crucial time management strategy to meet the deadlines of your thesis writing.
A popular method to stay focused during these hours is using the Pomodoro technique. Pomodoro technique involves taking short breaks in between your working sessions. Thus, breaking your working sessions into small sections. You can use the Marina: Pomodoro Assistant to set up your customized hours according to your needs. Indeed, the Pomodoro Technique has often been referenced by the successful Master’s students we have talked to in the thesistribe podcast (in German).
That said: Putting “writing” in your calendar may not be enough, because writing can mean many things, as I explain here:
@drdominikfroehlich #1 scheduling mistake of students while writing their thesis #thesis #research #writingtips ♬ original sound – Dr. Dominik – Thesis Coach
Do you have a friend or someone in your circle working on a thesis? Make them your accountability partner. You can share your daily or weekly goals and share your progress. This can and should also include asking for any help from your partner. You can also work together if you think it can boost your productivity. Research says, having a specific accountability partner boosts the chance of being successful to 95%. This is why accountability coaching is a central part of every thesistribe program, like the 4 Week Thesis program. (Due to popular demand, I have also opened up accountability coaching as a stand-alone service. Book your hours here).
Writing a thesis requires countless edits and feedback. Be sure to track your progress and reach out to your advisor for feedback to see if you are on the right track. At the end of each thesis writing session, go through the daily goal you wrote to keep your progress in check. Everyone who has worked on a thesis can attest that this is an effective time management strategy.
If you are not satisfied with your supervisor’s feedback, you may point him or her to my award-winning and evidence-based practice of giving video-feedback!
Is your working space perfectly lit? Is your chair comfortable? The area you choose to work in plays a big role in your productivity. For instance, choosing a noisy place to work can reduce your productivity greatly (if you need to concentrate). But a silent room might kill your creative flow.
This is another effective time management strategy to choose a space to work in. this can be a co-working space, a café you like, or any room in your house.
Also, note that the context may also be defined by social elements. For example, we host virtual co-writing sessions within the thesistribe programs, as they have been found to be boosting productivity and help people to stay on task.
Eat that Frog is a book by Brian Tracy on the time management system. While it is important to block other activities and solely focus on your thesis writing, it is important to get any task that is occupying your mind. Because, when you sit down with your thesis, that ONE task can keep distracting you. Basically, ‘Eat that Frog’ means to identify and get done with the most difficult task first. It’s vital to include this in your effective time management strategies list.
Now that you have all the planning done, procrastination can still kick in to ACTUALLY start working. This can be tackled by the 5-minute rule. This is a bonus to your effective time management strategies. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Tell yourself that you just need to do work on the thesis writing for only 5 minutes, and you’re done. Once you get in the flow, you will notice that you end up wanting to write more.
To make all the aforementioned effective time management strategies for thesis writing successful, do this last thing: Reward yourself. This is essential to prevent yourself from getting burned out. Go for a walk, and spend some time with your girlfriend/boyfriend/friend. Any leisure activity works fine. Like, as having a glass of wine at the end of the day to wind down.
The finished product is what matters. By following these effective time management strategies for your thesis writing, you will pat yourself on the back at the end of your thesis writing journey. Just imagine meeting that last deadline. We congratulate you in advance!
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Dominik E. Froehlich, PhD
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