Top 10 tips for a trouble-free thesis
- Never just sit down and try to type. It’s common to hear advice in the vein of “just get words down”, but it doesn’t work that way. Get your brain and content in order first.
- Use pen and paper before pixels. Get the disordered ideas out of your brain and onto physical paper first, then try to put them in order before you start typing. It’ll save you huge amounts of time.
- Don’t turn on the computer until you know what you’re going to work on, otherwise you’ll end up stuck in a default loop of e-mail and Internet until guilt catches up with you.
- Get your mind into the right state to work before you sit down at the desk. I decide what to work on, then do a five minute physical warm-up to get the blood flowing before I type. A walk around the block can work too.
- Give yourself time away from the computer to think. Archimedes had his bathtub, Newton had his apple tree and Feynman had his wobbling plate. Your brain can do great things when you relax.
- Not all content is of equal value. Spend more time and effort on the best results and references. Making the thesis longer with sub-standard work only reduces the overall quality. Less is more!
- See your progress: I use a 4 × 10 grid on a sheet of A4 above my desk. Each block in the grid equals 500 words, which I filled in as I went. Small habit, huge difference in morale and productivity.
- Work in 25 minute bursts of high energy and focus, with five minute breaks in-between. Use a timer, work on one thing and stop when the timer goes off. Take a longer break after four rounds.
- Get into the habit of finishing sections, rather than leaving them for later. This means setting small tasks that you can complete quickly.
- You won’t follow all of the advice all of the time. That’s fine, but if it’s not going right, take a step back, look at your habits and start again.
Click on the link above, the whole article is well worth a read (thx to @jennifermjones for the tip).