Master Thesis: A comprehensive guide in form of advice

The time of writing my master thesis has come and I would like to share with you my best advice on how to successfully complete this task.

Think about and pick your topic in advance

I can’t recommend enough you to pick your Master thesis topic in advance, as you will be able to reflect, read about it and maybe plan the structure of your work before the real pressure knock on your door.

My suggestion is that you do it as soon as possible and try to take advantage of the tight schedule you will be submitted to over the following months. And if you are still considering following this advice, I can guarantee you will be forever thankful to yourself, as it will give you a boost of confidence at the beginning of your writing process and that will make all the difference in the workflow.

That advice might seem obvious, right? But actually few people implement it and to make sure you are not going to be on this team you should check Angelina’s guide on how to find inspiration for your master thesis.

I personally knew the generic theme I wanted to write about but ended up changing the direction of my topic some weeks after writing process and let me tell you, friend, it has been a hard time trying to compensate the inefficiency of my choices.

Planning is the most important phase

Swedes are outstanding planners and every project here usually has at least one-third of the time dedicated to the planning step. No wonder they are so efficient in delivering amazing results, as the planning process is the most important in everything you will do in life!

So, my advice is that you adopt the Swedish style and don’t be afraid to dedicate a substantial amount of time and energy to the planning phase of your thesis and you will see your work will flow naturally and effectively.

Define the aim and the outline of your work carefully and after that structure the summary of your thesis. Then, I would say you have 50% of the work done – of course, that is an exaggeration but it does feel like that when you have a sustainable plan to follow!

Select carefully the method and material you will use

Once the planning is ready, my suggestion is that you put a lot of effort defining your work method and selecting the material you will use to base your ideas and consequently your work.

Dedicate some quality time on reading and developing confidence on the topic you are going to write about and then stop searching for thousands of other sources. Remember you need to put an end to that reading phase in order to start the writing process 🙂

Don’t waste your time reading the unnecessary material and learn to select the right ones. I know it is hard, but being able to identify and effectively extract the information you need is also part of the task!

Close-up of a laptop, notebook and coffee.

Be consistent and don’t underestimate the work

My intention is not to stress you, but I really need to let you know that writing a Master thesis is not going to be an easy assignment, so take it seriously from the very beginning.

The process was designed to take you out of the comfort zone and to force you to produce a unique and valuable work. And that takes a lot of effort, believe me!

Treat it like a work, establish working hours, get yourself dressed properly and take breaks. My advice for you is to be consistent, work hard, focus on your project and push your limits when you feel you have reached it already. You can do it, but you need to commit, ok?

Let me put it straight: you will never feel inspired to write your thesis

Please, understand one thing and remember that every single day: you will never feel inspired to write your thesis.

Don’t just sit there and wait for inspiration to come and help you to write a very good thesis because unfortunately, your work is not a piece of art #sorrynotsorry.

Academic work requires consistency and persistence and you need to push your limits every day. It hurts, and somedays you will just hate it, but in the end, you will be proud of yourself and your efforts.

I am currently using a program that helps me with the full concentration requirement and being focused on only one thing at a time – you can read my post about single task here. 

The  is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and it is used as a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

Check the post about the Pomodoro Technique published on the blog here and if you are interested I suggest you download the program Tomight for desktop devices and Goodtime for your smartphone.

Establish a schedule and follow it

If you have read my previous posts, you probably know already I am a control freak and that I have a major thing for schedules. Just can’t hide it haha!

But honestly, there is no way you can be successful in your thesis writing process without a very good schedule that will not only guide your days but also impose some urgency in your productivity.

My suggestion is that you establish a realistic yet ambitious schedule with the number of pages you need to finish per week or day, taking into consideration you will have amazing and terrible cycles during the process.

However, by no means stop following your schedule. You can adjust it, but never give up and if you need, you can define in advance some treats for accomplishing your goals and make us of the positive reinforcement psychology.

Minimize distractions

There is no way to deny that we are all addicted to the distractions offered by technology.

Social media, emails, videos, images, so much stimulation, so much distraction. And all of this is poison for your brain while writing your thesis, as you will need your full focus dedicated to this project.

So, I suggest you establish the discipline of putting your phone away and turning off the notifications on your devices and especially on your computer to avoid interruptions on your attention.

If you are stuck, go on to the following topic, but don’t stop the work

You will get stuck sometimes and that is ok, you just need to accept and deal with it the best way as possible.

In my experience, I developed an effective strategy of following to the next or just a different topic and start writing or reading something new, give myself a “fake break” instead of a real break.

By doing so, I push my limits and most of the time I find the idea or words I was looking for, while if I stop, I kinda freeze when I have to get back to where I stopped.

Of course, it might be different for you, but I suggest you give my strategy a try if you get stuck, as you don’t need to follow the order of your summary the whole time.

Sometimes, a change in your perspectives is exactly what you need to avoid or fight the agonizing writer’s block.

Treat yourself well

I am usually super strict with myself, but lately, I have understood that is not the most healthy and productive way of dealing with life. Do you agree?

So, I am trying to treat myself better during the writing process and allow myself some pleasant moments and experiences. And I suggest you do the same 🙂

Some things are absolutely necessary for all of us, like nourishing your body with healthy food, having quality resting time and practicing a physical activity.

The rest I will let you decide, but choose activities you enjoy, like going out, watching a movie, having fika, meeting friends or anything else that suits you better.

Have a plan to overcome the stress and anxiety moments

Well, if there is one thing I can guarantee is that you will have some moments of stress and anxiety, either during the writing process or only at the end. So, be prepared to overcome them and don’t allow these moments to take away your focus and determination.

For me, it is very important to have a plan to deal with those crazy moments, in order to feel confident they will pass and that I am in control. My strategy is to meditate whenever I feel like getting out of the tracks – if you are interested I can suggest this website with helpful guided meditations.

I also start every day mentalizing confidence and remembering empowering moments of my life, but of course, each one has a strategy to deal with stress the best way to suit their own individuality.

You can try listening to music, dancing, running, screaming or anything else that is able to take away the bad energies of your body and mind.

Well, I can say that writing a Master thesis is a stressful task and you will learn a lot about yourself, your strength and weakness during this process. And it is also an opportunity to enhance so many aspects of your self-esteem and confidence, so try to make the most out of it.

Do you have an advice?

Let us know in the comments bellow!


Written by Lara

31 Mar 2018