March 4, 2016, by Charlie Porter

Things I’ve Learnt When Doing My Dissertation

Already into the third month of 2016, your dissertation deadline’s probably getting dangerously close. We’re all dealing with it differently – denial, followed by another day in bed watching House of Cards. Rage. Frustration. Calling your mum in a panic. Worry. Even accepting defeat.


Don’t worry. We’re going to get through this.


Here are a few things I’ve found help me stay on track:


Don’t work in bed. Yes, it’s comfortable (and if your student house is like mine it’s probably easier to stay wrapped in your duvet then venture downstairs where you might get frostbite). But ask yourself honestly; how many essays have you really boshed out whilst lying down? How many times have you ended up snuggled amongst your pillows taking a ‘quick nap’? Working at a desk can be a little stiff but at least it’s productive. You have a clear workspace to concentrate and organise your thoughts. You can put your books next to you without falling between the wall and the mattress. Before you know it, you’ll have another 1,000 words typed up in no time.

Don’t forget to eat. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about lunch when you’re in the zone. Don’t. If I get hungry, my mind shuts down and I end up being less productive than I would’ve been if I’d gone out for a meal. If you’re worried about losing your work-mojo, plan ahead. Make something simple like a sandwich, or leftovers that you can bring with you in the morning.

Always go to the silent section of the library. I’ve always been guilty of going to the communal areas of the library with my friends to do work, and then come home confused when I haven’t got much done. Then, one day, I stumbled across endless cubicles of complete and utter silence and, for a laugh, decided to work there. One piece of coursework later I emerged, feeling rejuvenated. Do not underestimate the power of silence.

Work with your friends. Not necessarily implying all the time, but my housemates and I have got into the habit of setting up our workspace in the kitchen. There’ll be the odd nattering and distraction when someone finds a cute video of a cat, but on the whole we’re generally quite productive. I find that if I’m surrounded by others working then I’m more motivated to work. Give it a go.

Lists. Each week I make a list of things that I need to do. Whilst I might start the next week with some things left uncrossed, it helps to keep me on track (and more importantly remember). Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying then drawing a line through something when it’s done.

Rewards. Many people are guilty of almost punishing themselves when they’ve got too much work on. “No sorry, can’t come tonight. Deadlines.” Relax. If you can honestly say you’ve had a productive day of work, then why shouldn’t you treat yourself? Throwing a bit of fun in to your work-hard life surely won’t hurt.



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