Ten Tips for writing a Stress-Free Thesis

Writing a thesis is easier said than done, of course, and you have plenty of work ahead. But like any big undertaking, writing a thesis is easier if you break it down into smaller steps.

  1. Don’t save data analysis to the very last minute. Plan ahead.
  2. Confirm your table of contents with your supervisor.
  3. Write an outline, and stick to it as you write.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Transform your published articles into thesis chapters.
  5. Create deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
  6. Find a quiet place to write where you will be free from distractions. The lab is usually not a good place to write a thesis. Work from home or in a quiet place like the library.
  7. Assign yourself a number of pages to write each day and stop when you are done. This will prevent you from spending 24 hours a day at the computer, agonizing over your progress. When you’ve written your assigned four or five pages, then you’re finished for the day. Turn off the computer and do something else.
  8. Take plenty of breaks, and be sure to spend time with friends and family.
  9. Get some exercise, eat well, and take care of your health.
  10. Don’t work in utter solitude. This is not the time to turn into a hermit. If other Ph.D. students in your lab or department are writing their theses at the same time, consider creating an informal support group in which you can share the stresses of writing a thesis and have people at hand who are willing to review certain sections or even the entire manuscript.