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How to stay motivated to work on your thesis (especially at the end of the academic year)

Date:22 May 2023
Student Hylke working hard on her thesis.
Student Hylke working hard on her thesis.

The end of the year is in sight, which means that you are probably almost finished with writing your thesis. It can be very hard to stay motivated when everyone around you seems to have finished and is enjoying the nice weather. That’s why we’ve thought of some tips on how to stay motivated to work on your thesis so you will definitely succeed and have a finished product you can be proud of!

#1 Find the perfect study spot

Having a nice study spot is essential to stay motivated to work on your thesis. Otherwise, you’ll probably just want to go home, especially if you can’t concentrate well because it’s noisy around you or too cold or hot. There are lots of faculties and buildings where you can find your perfect study spot. The most common place is the University Library. Now that the university has put some regulations in place regarding the temperature within buildings, it’s important that you go sit in the right spots. Especially during summer, the air conditioning will only be turned on when it’s above 26 degrees Celsius outside. That’s why I would advise you to sit on either the first or second floor, as the third and fourth floors will probably be too hot. It’s always nice to sit near a window so you can look outside to refresh your mind and enjoy some sun. 

I also really like studying at the Harmony Building or the Heymans Building where you can easily sit outside during breaks. The Heymans Building also has a coffee bar with delicious coffee for a good price!

#2 Study together with friends who are also working on their theses

Finding motivation to study is always harder when you’re going to study alone, so that’s why you should try studying with friends! Especially with friends who are also working on their theses so you are all in the same boat and can complain about it. I always get way more work done when I’m studying with friends because I can talk to them when I’m stuck on something or brainstorm with them for new ideas. But, make sure that you actually do some work as well! ;)

#3 Spend your breaks outside

Sitting inside all day definitely does not help my motivation levels to stay high, so I go outside during the day. Eat your lunch and enjoy your coffee in the sun to get your vitamin D, read a book instead of scrolling on your phone, or go for a little walk to stretch your legs. Afterwards, you will feel re-energised and ready to do some more work!

#4 Reward yourself

Something that helps me to stay motivated as well, is to plan one big reward for when you’ve finished your thesis and small rewards throughout the process. I told myself, for example, that I could buy the book I was eyeing up for a long time after I finished writing my thesis which helped me to stay motivated. Throughout the process, when I finished work for the day, I rewarded myself with a nice iced coffee from one of my favourite (but expensive) cafés, or a nice dinner that I wouldn’t normally get. The rewards definitely don’t have to be food, it can be anything, like treating yourself to a nice massage, or buying that vinyl you’ve wanted for some time. Of course you are deserving of all these things regardless of having done your work or not, but having something to look forward to might help you to stay motivated throughout the days and months.

#5 Find ways to destress

It’s also important to keep your stress levels low, because stress is a real motivation killer. You can do this by staying active–going to the gym, cycling, or walking while listening to a podcast–because happiness hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin are released. I personally like to meditate for 15 minutes per day as it really helps me handle stressful situations like writing a thesis better. If you would like to know in which other ways you can also easily reduce stress, you can read our blog on this topic.

#6 Find a good balance

In the end, it all comes down to a good balance and schedule. Make sure to plan fun things, but also moments of rest and relaxation (VERY important) throughout the week. Also try to get into a routine so your body and mind know what to expect, which makes things easier. For example, I try to work from 9AM until 5 or 6PM with a one-hour break and some smaller breaks in between. Implementing these habits and finding a balance that works for you, definitely helps with staying motivated to work on your thesis especially at the end of the academic year. You got this!

Hopefully these tips will help you to stay motivated. If you also have great tips that are essential for others to know or some motivational quote you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below. Good luck with finishing your thesis, you are smashing it! :)

About the author


Hiya! I’m Hylke, a Dutch MA English Literature student. People often ask me if I’m Frisian, but sadly I’m not; I just have a Frisian name. I love reading, writing, meeting with friends, and the colour yellow, so much so that I take pictures of every yellow wall I can find!


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