How Not To Die When Writing Your Thesis

My postgraduate program is structured in such a way that the first 9 months are used for coursework, tests, examinations, and whatnot, while the next nine months are solely for you to work on your dissertation (or, project).

In my opinion, this is the most brilliant idea because it allows you to solely focus on either your coursework or, your project. Big-ups to whoever thought of this arrangement.

After a gruelling 9 months of coursework and examinations, I can finally put aside all that, and focus solely on my project. In as much as the second half might sound liberating, I came to realize that it actually requires a lot of mental energy. Probably even more than the first half.

I have been to my supervisor’s office and all the brainstorming that was done in order to lay down the steps to take left me with a headache.

So in order to make these 9 months less stressful for myself, I asked my supervisor a truckload of questions on the steps to take. I also consulted some online sources and these are the tips I came up with.

I really hope these will be of immense help to someone.

1. Write down EVERYTHING!

I’m always looking for an excuse to purchase new notes, so this tip was an exciting one for me. If for some reason you are not able to purchase new notes, I’d suggest you look for papers that have stuff printed on only one side.

The awesome part of this is that you’d probably find loads of one-page printed papers in school. Stock up on them and tada, you have a note (which really isn’t a note), plus you’d be helping to minimize waste.

Now that you have your note, take down EVERY SINGLE THING.

You have an idea that you think will be important to your project, take it down.

Your friend suggests something that you think will be of importance to your project, take it down.

I know this might seem overwhelming, but it’s those little things you write down that could help make up your final write-up.

2. Lists, Lists, Lists.

This kind of relates to the first tip, because, it involves putting things down.

With the increase in time available for lounging, there is a possibility that you might go through your days without regard for the time. After all, classes are over, right?


I like to write down the things I have to do each day, just so that I do not waste so much time doing nothing. It’s not like I don’t have my days for lounging. I just make sure that July isn’t upon me and I haven’t even written my Chapter 5.

3. Find Chill Time

Do. Not. Kill. Yourself.

Yes, it is important that you work, but if you die, who finishes the project?

Whether it’s swimming, reading a book, watching movies/series, or even just doing nothing. Always make out time to chill.

However, do this in moderation so that you do not lose track of time.

4. Your Supervisor Is Your Best Friend (just for that period though).

I just want to thank the Lord for giving me a very patient and understanding lecturer as a supervisor. I can ask the silliest questions, and he would reply. I could get stuck at a particular place and he would patiently reason with me till we found a way out.

Now, you might not have a supervisor who is as chilled as mine is, and that is totally fine.

If you dread face-to-face contact, you could always send emails, WhatsApp messages, make phone calls, and so many other things. Just make sure you are in constant communication with your supervisor.

It’s just 9 months. It’ll all be over before you know it.

5. Ask Questions (Even The Somewhat Silly Ones).

You are not God. You definitely cannot know the answer to everything.

While you have someone who is obviously at a higher level supervising you, be sure to ask all the questions you have.

So many online and offline resources exist that could help you too.

6. Improvise.

When I made my Research Proposal presentation, my topic was different. When I went to see my supervisor after an almost two-hour conversation, it became something else.

This happened because of loopholes that started coming up. So, we improvised in order to make things work.

Note that improvising does not mean wuruwuru to the answer. That can seriously cast you when you’re making your final presentation. Improvise when necessary and when it could improve the quality of your work.

7. Utilize Cloud Storage platforms.

Trust me, you do not want to be one of those people who wake up and see the blue screen of death when they turn on their laptops. This could be bad if you have the soft copy of your entire write-up on your system. It gets even worse when you ‘forgot’ to back up those files.

Google Drive. Dropbox. iCloud. OneDrive. Box. Mega. NextCloud. SpiderOak are some clouds storage platforms you could use.

Avoid stories that touch. Please.

If you frown at using cloud storage options, you could always get USB drives or external hard drives.

Or, just send your soft copy write-up to yourself as an email. I did that in undergrad.

8. Take Care of Your Mental Health.

Anxiety is one very common emotion that can come in during the period you’d spend working on your project. There is always that tendency to look at what others are doing and how far they have gone, and then compare yourself to them.

Avoid that.

Work at your own pace and never let another person’s gra gra make you doubt your hard work and efforts.

Remember that the race is not to the swift, but to person wey use sense pass (lol).

Always appreciate yourself and constantly reward yourself.

You’ll be alright in the end.

Thank you for reading this far.

Have an amazing day.

Please share with your friends.

With love,

Ihuoma 🐘

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