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How to Write your Thesis from Home

Date:22 May 2020
Thesis mode: On
Thesis mode: On

Just like me, you may be one of those students who is currently in the process of writing a thesis. What I had planned out as a dissertation drama with all acts taking place in the UB, turns out to be a scientific struggle in my student room turned improvised home office. The truth is that before the coronavirus decided to make 2020 an entirely superfluous year, I had never spent a single hour in my room studying, let alone writing anything that required more brain capacity than needed for binging an entire season of Too Hot to Handle. The good news? At least I don’t suffer from FOMO because everything is cancelled anyway, which means that I have to finally face my personal, academic Goliath. In my bedroom. On my own. In the following, you can read some of my tips on how I forced myself to be productive and write something half-way sensible, while stuck at home. 

1. Work in the morning

I always considered myself as a person who is more productive at night. This misconception probably stems from the fact that I never even tried to work in the morning and instead spent a large part of my day procrastinating into the evening. But boy was I wrong. Lately, I’ve tried a different approach. Instead of working into the wee hours of the night, I’ve started waking up around 8 am (which is incredible for my standards). Once I’ve gotten ready for the day I head straight to my desk and start writing. I’ve noticed that I am especially productive before lunch, so I try to get the majority of my writing for the day done between 9 am and 2 pm. The nice side-effect of this style of working is that you can call it a day fairly early and even have some time left to meet up with your friends on houseparty or join in for an online pub quiz.

2. Set daily goals 

This is a crucial one, especially in terms of keeping yourself motivated. A thesis can be quite long and daunting (don’t even get me started on two). So in order to keep yourself motivated, you should set yourself some daily goals that you want to achieve in order to create a sense of progress. I’ve found that on a really good day I can write around 1000 words, but normally I most likely average around 500-700 words per day. Having figured out my average, I’ve set 500 words as my personal goal, which I try to achieve daily. Of course, there may be entire days that I just spend reading, but you should have something to work towards so that you can feel good about yourself once you get there. 

3. Write/work at least 2 hours every day 

At the moment, all of us have days where everything seems harder than usual and there is not a single drop of motivation left. You know? Those days where the sun is shining outside or Netflix has released a new season of your favourite series but not even the worst form of thesis angst can get you going. Of course, it would be super tempting to just take a day off here and there and surrender to your couch. My advice: Don’t. Do. It. The clue to staying productive and making quick progress is to create a consistent work rhythm. Especially when you are writing about an academically challenging topic, taking a day off can throw you off and make you forget the train of thought you had the previous day. Even worse, one day can quickly turn into two, which can turn into…. Do you get the message? If you want to make life easier for yourself, make sure to work on your thesis at least 2 hours every day, even on days where life does not make it easy for you. That way you can feel good about yourself every day and, if you are having a rough day, still have 22 hours of free time left over.    

4. Exercise

If you are stuck at your desk for hours and hours on end, you have to make sure you get yourself moving every once in a while. After all, a healthy body also equals a healthy mind. I usually try to have two small exercise sessions per day - one in the morning before I start working, and one in the afternoon to conclude the day. In the morning I try to do 20-30 minutes of various exercises at home (push-ups, sit-ups, dips, squats etc.), whereas in the evenings I go for a 30-45 minute jog to clear out my head. If this routine sounds a bit too lame for you or you want some additional creative stimulus on how to keep yourself moving you can check out this blog.  

5. Purchase noise-cancelling headphones

When you work from home there can be a lot of noise in the background that you just can’t escape. From yelling siblings to cleaning parents and instrument playing neighbours, there are plenty of situations where you wished you had a quiet space where you could go and work. In order to come one step closer to finding peace and quiet, I absolutely recommend that you get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. And I am not talking about those fancy-schmancy ones for 300 bucks. Just a good old regular pair of these ones which have been used and tested on thousands of construction sites all over the world: 

Paired with some smaller earplugs, you can eliminate almost 90% of the sounds in your surroundings, which can make all the difference if you have trouble focusing. Of course, there are also some slightly more technologically advanced headphones that offer active noise cancelling. However, trust me when I say that none of them works as good as those above when it comes to muting your saxophone playing neighbour. 

Are you writing your thesis from home as well? Share your study tips in the comments below! 

About the author

Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently completing my double master's degree in European law and international law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.


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