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Stuck In A Thesis Or Dissertation Writing Rut? 9 Simple Tips To Get You Out

Stuck In A Thesis Or Dissertation Writing Rut? 9 Simple Tips To Get You Out

You've wondered so many times, just how you've managed to come so far. Sometimes life got in the way and other times you weren't sure how to maintain your sanity. But you've finally made it to this tremendous point. You don't want the fear of drafting your thesis or dissertation to keep you from actually doing it and doing it well. 

Your adviser or professor has already provided the official requirements and even some tips on how to get the massive project finished. You’ve learned how to organize your paper and where to begin with research. You know which chapter to draft first and are going a little crazy learning the formatting rules. 

So, the formalities are in place, but you still can’t seem to stay on track with writing. That’s because knowing how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll start doing it. You really have to be mentally, and not just intellectually prepared to take on any project and your paper is no different. In order to complete your thesis or dissertation, taking care of yourself and setting realistic goals will be just as vital as adhering to the project’s requirements. To do so, you’ll need a few tips:

1. Reach out to a productive pal. If you have a friend who is working on a similar project, ask them for a little help and in return, you will provide the same. You can read and edit each other’s work, and can even share work calendars so one can hold the other accountable. 

Even if you don't have someone who is in the same boat, you can still ask for a little help. If you trust the person to critique and possibly even edit your work when they can, then that would be a useful favor to ask. Whether those requests can be met or not, at a minimum, ask your friend if you can email a piece of your project after each writing session. They don’t even have to read it if that isn’t a part of the plan, but having a set time to share your progress will make you feel as though someone else is counting on you to do so. This idea is especially useful when your friend will remind you to email or will reach out if you missed the deadline. 

If you don't have someone to help at all, that's perfectly okay. Set a time to email yourself after each writing session. You can even have a little fun by setting up a separate account for the emails. Create a cool name for the new account and set reminders from your primary account. That way, it will still feel like you have a productivity pal!

2. Set a weekly minimum. Since we all have different obligations, it isn't always realistic to set a specific number of hours to work each day. If you can do so, absolutely do it. But, if you cannot, try setting a page number minimum or even a word count minimum for each week. Then you can work on the days and at the times you are able to. Be sure to first figure out about how long it will take you to complete the project its entirety.

3. Create a schedule and set reminders. After you set your weekly minimum, work on a schedule that you can actually stick to. It will be helpful to first create a schedule for your other obligations. If it isn't possible for you to commit to 3 hours every day, but you know you can commit to 18 hours every week, simply create your schedule to meet that 18-hour minimum. 

Once your schedule is created, set reminders for each work day that lead up to the time you are scheduled to begin. For example, if you plan to write at 6 PM, set a reminder for 2 PM, alerting you every hour (until 6) that your work will soon begin. Doing so can help you complete other tasks beforehand so that you are more likely to stick to your writing schedule.

4. Use a productivity app. There are so many amazing apps out there, but not all will work for everyone. The best thing to do is conduct a little research to see which apps utilize the best methods to suit your individual needs. This is another tool that will help you to stay focused and hold you accountable. 

Black and gold typewriter

5. Remember to sacrifice. There will be countless times when you just don't want to work. You may even convince yourself that you can't work. Many people don't have time, but they make time. You will have to do the same. That will mean one less show to watch, one less hour to hang out, and maybe even one less hour to sleep. Remember that it will all be worth it, once everything is complete. Besides, if you don't finish now, you'll just have to sacrifice that much longer!

6. Have at least one day off. Don't feel that you have to work every single day to get your paper where it needs to be. Schedule your time off and as long as you are you meeting your weekly goals, it will be absolutely deserving. During the day off, plan something fun or very relaxing. Make at least some of that day about you and you only. Even if you only have time to take a short walk or have a hot bath, just make sure a few moments are about you.

7. Hold yourself accountable. Reward yourself when you accomplish your weekly goals and withhold something when you do not. To keep motivated, choose things you’ll really want to have. Maybe there's a new movie you've been dying to see. Well, if you perform well by the end of the week, you can go and if you don’t … don't even think about it! Remember to sacrifice!

8. Create writing spaces. Not everyone has the free space at home to create an office, but there are still so many ways you can create a dedicated workspace. Having a dedicated spot for studying, writing papers, and everything in-between can help you stay focused. Whenever possible, you'll want your environment to be conducive to learning. Even if options are super limited and the only spot you have is on top of your bed … that’s okay. You can get a little lap desk or bed desk, set everything up just as you like, grab a cup of tea, glass of wine, a can of sardine juice or whatever works!

9. Be comfortable while you work. Wear comfy clothes, light candles, play soothing music, or anything else you find comforting. Whatever it is, do it every time you work and it will make the task that much easier. 

Hope all goes well & Don’t quit!

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