When writing your Thesis Paper set specific and measurable Goals

If you’re in the process of writing a thesis, you’re probably overwhelmed by the scope of the task. A thesis is a long, extensive piece of research, analysis, and writing, and takes several months at an absolute minimum (and in many instances takes multiple years to complete). A challenge of this size cannot be tackled by taking the long view.

Instead of focusing on the imposing “forest” that is the entire body of the thesis, look to the individual “trees”. By setting yourself small, accomplishable goals, you will be able to form a reliable schedule, avoid stress, feel accomplished, and complete your thesis in a reasonable amount of time. Here’s how.

  1. Divide the Thesis into Many Smaller Sections

    Do not focus on writing the whole thesis as a document. Instead, write a highly detailed outline and fill in each section on your own time. Begin by laying out the large sections that are required by your committee: the introduction, the methods, the discussion, and so forth. Then, divide each section into at least three sub-sections. For instance, you may wish to start your introduction section with a literature review, then discuss current research on the topic, and then delve into your own research question.

    Once you have divided the thesis into small sections, divide it even further. Plan every single paragraph of the thesis out, so you never are at a loss as to what to write and where to place what you have written. This outline will be invaluable as you go about writing your first draft. Simply follow it as a guide, filling in each section one at a time.

  2. Schedule Designated Work Times

    A thesis cannot be written in a long binge session. Even if you loved pulling all-nighters when working on undergraduate class assignments, this method simply is not effective when tackling a larger work. Instead, find gaps in your schedule and devote them to writing.

    Try to find multiple two- or three-hour sessions throughout the week. During these periods, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and write. Bring your outline, and work on filling in the missing sections with as much text as you can generate. Once the designated writing period is over, you are free to take a break or move onto something else. As long as you stick to the schedule, you will be able to chip away at the thesis consistently without stressing too much.

  3. Give Yourself Credit!

    Don’t think about the task ahead. Instead, pat yourself on the back for all the work you’ve done! When you finish a big section, cross it off your outline and do something to celebrate. Stick to your writing schedule, don’t get overwhelmed, and know that you’re on the way to a speedy finish!

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