Writing a Master's Thesis: Well Planned is Halfway There
I am good at keeping things in order but only those that are outside of my head. When it was time to start working on my master's thesis in the beginning of the year, I freaked out a bit. I'm working full-time, have at least some housework to do (luckily my husband does most of it since I am a student again) and I also need to sleep from time to time. Now that I am almost done with my thesis I will allow myself the audacity to tell you how it's done.
1. Make a List
Lists are the best! As soon as you have the names of your monsters written down, they become smaller. On my list I put down things like literature research, interviews, actually writing the thesis and so on. For the whole thesis I gathered 17 items in an Excel table. Then I made assumptions on how many hours each task will take and how many days I will need for each task. That way I was able to look at my calendar, put my list next to it and calculate when I could be done with my thesis. Now that I look back at my assumptions, I have nothing but a sorry smile for my naive pre-thesis self: Did I really think I was Flash or something?
2. Track the Time
One of my fellow students, Philipp, told me about awork, an app that let's you track the time of each task you put down there. I transferred my master's thesis list into awork and clicked record, whenever I started a task. That is how I found proof that I was not Flash and that some items on my list might need considerably more time than I had thought initially.
3. Get Your Friends on Board
Pretty fast it dawned on me that my beloved free time was gone for the time being. I braced myself and my husband. He reacted in the only sensible way by filling up the chocolate drawer for me and regularly offering me cocktails. Next I wrote personal messages to my closest friends as I did not want to disappear from the planet's surface, leaving people dear to me wondering why I wasn't spending time with them anymore. The result: One friend stopped by with even more chocolate as well as vitamin smoothies and another sent me a little gift in the mail. I was speechless. Now I am spending every free second thinking about how I could thank them.
4. Plan Your Reward
What will you do when you are done? Of course the main reward is a Master's Degree I will be able to brag with: "Look how smart and talented I am, I have a shiny piece of paper to prove it!" Sounds stupid? Indeed. Instead I am planning a different kind of reward. In my case it will probably be a weekend getaway with my husband – and a facial maybe, and a massage, probably some books (NOT related to my studies), and more chocolate of course.
5. Plan Your Time After Your Studies
One of the first things I realized when I started studying again was how much time I actually had before that. I mean, my free time allowed for an entire master's degree program! I must have wasted so much time before (ahem Netflix...). I have a few ideas about what I could do after I'm done with my content strategy master's program at FH Joanneum. I want to try to learn to play the flute and I would like to try to learn swing dance. The emphasis here is on trying because musically I'm almost illiterate. But as you keep hearing: People never regret what they have tried to accomplish but what they never dared to even try. So here I come, post-degree self. I might not be a musical genius but if I have learned one thing by studying gain: I am freakin' tenacious!