One of the main things I have struggled with is working on my thesis every day. Having such a large project looming over my head is intimidating, so I tend to deal with it by doing all my other work and then devoting all my time left to the thesis. The problem with that, however, is that by the time I get around to my thesis, the week is almost over, and I have five or six fewer days to do the work I was supposed to do over the course of seven days. Talking to other seniors with looming theses, I realized I am not the only student struggling to meet the demands of a thesis while also enjoying the process and not becoming overwhelmed. I attempted to work on my thesis every day for the past two and a half weeks, and it made such a difference. For fellow seniors or anyone with an impending deadline, here are some tips I have been working on to make the process less daunting.
- Try to do a little bit every day–I was not entirely successful in this endeavor, but working all but five days in the past two and a half weeks made a huge difference in my thesis and my overall mindset. I felt much more on top of my deadlines and am more confident in the work I produced.
- Create small tasks for each day–I struggled with working on my thesis the first few days mostly because I was forcing myself to do too much. I found that even just making small tasks for each day to keep myself thinking about the thesis was incredibly helpful because it made me realize I did not have to do everything each time I sat down to work on it.
- Not finishing each task is okay–Because I like to start and finish projects in one sitting and will work for hours straight to make that happen, I often have a hard time allowing myself to take breaks and to not finish a task in one day. Reminding myself that I can hold off on a task and work on another one instead or do half of one and half of another has allowed me to get more work done because the pressure to finish each task is not as high.
- Just write–I have a tendency to think about essays in my head and plan them out all in my head until I feel comfortable enough to write them out on paper or run out of time. This often leads me to procrastinate papers because even though I spend hours working on a paper way in advance, I rarely have much if anything on paper until the day or a couple days before a deadline. Professor Pinsker told me at the beginning of the semester that I need to get out of my head and just write, and that has honestly been some of the most encouraging advice I have received. I still have a lot to work on in forcing myself to just write, but I can already see a big difference in my work when I write in advance as compared to when I plan in my head until the deadline.
- It is okay to ask questions—If you have a question, do not be afraid to ask. This has been another one of my main stumbling blocks because I try to solve problems and then if I cannot solve them, I push them off until I run out of time instead of asking for help or advice. There is nothing wrong in recognizing someone else’s expertise and asking them questions.
I am still working on each and every one of these pieces of advice. While I am making significant progress, I still have a long way to go. Hopefully these tips can help you as much as they have been helping me.