I have really been enjoying working on my master’s thesis. It’s only been a few weeks since we started, but I wanted to share some tips that have really helped me make progress on it so far:
- Set an ambitious, but realistic time plan: This is my number one piece of advice. I keep a detailed thesis plan in Trello. Not only did I write out a broad timeline with important dates and deadlines, but I also have sections for daily to-dos and for recording questions as they arise. Each day, looking at that daily to-do list keeps me focused. When designing a timeline, I encourage budgeting in extra time so that you have a cushion if things don’t go according to plan. Also, if you do manage to complete your goals ahead of schedule, you can always conduct more analyses, polish your writing, or even start to work on a potential article if you plan to publish your thesis.
- Establish a daily schedule and stick with it: It doesn’t really matter what time of day you choose to work on your thesis; you know best when your most productive hours of the day are. In my opinion, the most important thing is consistency. For me, that means being at my desk ready to work by 9 at the latest.
- Find a dedicated workplace: I was one of the lucky students who was given a workspace in my advisor’s research group. This is an ideal scenario for several reasons. Importantly, it is free from distractions, not to mention that it is essential for keeping the data I am using secure. Additionally, the thesis period can be isolating, so working within a group is a huge plus. Even if you’re alone for most of the day, it’s nice to interact with other people during fika or lunch.
- Keep track of what you’ve read: I’m so glad that a student from the year above me mentioned this: make sure to write down at least a line or two about each paper you read. She suggested making a list of papers using a table in Excel. Personally, I keep track of all of my literature in Zotero as I mentioned in this post; this not only allows me to write notes about each paper, but is also an enormous aid when it comes to citations.
- Ask others to comment on your work: Besides having your advisor read your drafts, it may be helpful to ask a friend or colleague to look at your work periodically. Ideally, ask a variety of people to review what you’ve done so that you have a set of fresh eyes and different perspectives.