Essential tips for a stress-free thesis semester

Here are some off-beat and essential tips to help you navigate the thesis semester stress-free.

Is the thought of writing a thesis overwhelming? Here are some off-beat and essential tips to help you navigate the thesis semester stress-free from someone who’s been in your shoes before. 

Divide and conquer

Breaking down your thesis writing goals into achievable and doable goals is important. It may seem like an overwhelming task to start writing your thesis if you are starting from square one. The thesis semester is one of those most independent semesters, where you may not have any courses to attend and the sole focus lies on developing and writing your thesis with only a handful of consultations or meetings with your thesis supervisors. In order to make the best use of the time you have in those meetings, you need to be prepared. The preparation starts from day one after you have your thesis topic settled and your research plan approved by your supervisor. It is easier to get carried away in the thesis semester where the information seems endless! To avoid that and to manage your time better, make a to-do list for every day with an overall objective. Keep in mind that this to-do list must be achievable at the end of the day and not overwhelming. The key is consistency and commitment which will help you achieve your thesis goals.   

Get some fresh air!
Get some fresh air!

A thesis buddy

Planning and organising are fundamental for sailing through the thesis semester or for an almost stress-free experience. However, you do not have to be alone in doing this. Have a friend who may (or may not) be writing their thesis to keep each other motivated through the process. It may be even more beneficial to have a thesis buddy in the same field as you, whom you can approach for help or support academically or even just as a friend. Reading a first draft or peer-reviewing is also crucial for a polished thesis. To have a buddy means having a fresh pair of eyes who will look at the thesis from a reader’s point of view and may help in giving some pointers for improving your thesis. Your supervisor is the one who will guide you academically but to have a thesis buddy in an informal setting where you can speak your mind and discuss is beneficial as well. Trust me sometimes things make sense when all you had to do was say it out loud. Having a thesis buddy gives you that little extra support to make thesis writing a better experience. 

Get some fresh air!

Okay, this is one of those underrated bits of advice. Being focused and having a plan is important in writing an excellent thesis but also taking time for yourself, for your mental and physical health is as important as any other advice. We all know that writing a thesis means, spending long hours in front of your laptop, researching, reading, collating, writing and or spending long hours in the labs or reading transcripts. You might have heard of “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”, I know, it is a bit cheesy to pull this one out from The Shining but if you have watched the film, you’ll see what no play did to Jack ;) I am kidding about you turning into a psychopath but the bottom line is you need to set aside some time to meet friends, share a meal, go for a swim, go out for walks and get some fresh air! This is not just a piece of advice for those poor souls writing a thesis in the summer but also for those writing in the winter! In order to be outdoors irrespective of the season, as they say, “es gibt kein schlechtes wetter nur falsche kleidung” ;) (There is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing).    

Join an academic writing class

This tip is a hidden gem that you will find in the Campus portal or if you just look into the University website! I write this from a first-hand experience. Before I started my master's thesis semester, right before the semester break of my previous semester, I stumbled across a key qualification course on the Campus portal called “How to jump-start your thesis” (if I remember it correctly). This course helped me greatly in writing my master’s thesis efficiently! It taught me how to write effectively and efficiently and how to analyse what you wrote to make it better. This course complemented the research methods course I had within my master’s program. The key qualification course was offered by the University’s Language Center/Sprachenzentrum. If you did not know this, the language centre has an academic writing in English and German Schreibwerkstatt & Writing Center. So, watch out for similar courses on the Campus portal before you start your thesis semester or make an appointment with the centre to check how you can benefit from their support.

I hope these pieces of advice will help you in your journey of successfully finishing your degree with a thesis that you will be proud of! viel Erfolg!


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