How to write a dissertation with a tight deadlineOct 03, 2019
You’ve got a dissertation to write. You’ve put it off, and put it off some more, until you’ve reached that panic stations stage.
The panic train has left the station, and you’re fully onboard.
Since you're reading this article, I assume you haven't started writing your dissertation, and you're wondering how on earth you're going to meet your deadline.
There are a few options available to you at this juncture:
- Google “Dummies Guide on how to write a dissertation”
- Panic some more
No, seriously. Let's look at what you can do:
Just Start Writing
The main reason people stop writing (or not starting) their dissertations is usually the lack of creativity, material, and ideas. However, the solution to that problem is not putting a halt to writing overall, but rather to start writing again. Regardless of whether the things you write make sense or not, it is important to get your brain going, and eventually, you’ll start producing quality ideas. Writing and rewriting is a part of a process, so keep on going and new ideas will come to you soon.
Lower Your Expectations
Many students believe their dissertations need to be perfect. They strive for their highest grades and appraisal, which actually makes it harder to complete the dissertation in the first place. So, what you need to do is actually strive for excellence, and not perfection. Perfection, if unable to be achieved, leads to stress and blocks your ability to write in the first place, so make sure to provide quality content, within your abilities and creative spectrum.
Remove External and Psychological Obstacles
First of all, when writing a dissertation, it is important to remove yourself from all the external obstacles you might be facing; whether it is a negative peer group, annoying sibling or even an annoying partner, it is important to isolate yourself and focus simply on writing.
Even though external obstacles are hard to control, you can always learn how to deal with them and change your behaviour and centre of focus until you’re done. When it comes to psychological obstacles, like fear of failure, perfectionism, anxiety, dis-empowerment, it is important to loosen their grip by accepting their existence. The next step is to work on them and reduce their effect on your writing. Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep as this can help you fight these psychological obstacles much easier.
Write Something Every Single Day
Don’t ever go a single day without writing something new for your dissertation. Even if you’re stuck on modifying a section, start writing the next section. You will be surprised at how much time you will save if you simply put aside time to writing something new every day. Even when you experience a lack of energy and motivation on certain days, which happens to us all, you can get closer to your goal by simply scanning your outline task list and finding a small task that could be done quickly and easily (e.g. acknowledgements, title page, etc.). The point is, don’t ever go a day without adding to your dissertation.
Set Achievable Goals
Without goals you can easily find yourself overwhelmed. Your dissertation needs to be broken down into mini easy-to-manage parts, with reachable goals set in place. Things like "get 700 words done by 2pm," or "chapter two done by Thursday" are manageable aims.
Of course we all work to a different beat, so try to set goals that are in line with your own working rhythm. Soon you’ll see yourself overcoming that deadline stress.
Following these guidelines will go a very long way in helping you submit your dissertation within a very short time.
You'd be surprised at how many students who started out with absolute despair changed that around to a satisfying feeling of satisfaction and self-confidence.
However, we don't live in a perfect world, and some students simply won't be able to put their dissertation together in the required amount of time. If you find yourself in this situation, do not waste time.
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