Disclaimer: this is not to add to your stress if you’re doing a dissertation! I’ve decided to share where I’m up to and how I’m feeling so you can read something relatable, or maybe pick up a new tip. If you’re stressed, you certainly aren’t alone (and that’s a fact – because I’m stressed too!)
The last time I wrote, I mentioned the importance of choosing a topic you love for your dissertation. This month, this importance has been highlighted even more. As a part of my research, I have to analyse several government policies. I’m doing discourse analysis, so it seems I’m forever colour-coding and making my way through pages and pages of notes nowadays. It can be tedious and stressful at times, but I’m passionate about my topic. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be doing research on a topic you hate! So again, for any first and second years out there that have come across this article, please remember to pick something you enjoy! It makes it so much easier.
I’ve also finished a third draft of my literature review since the last time I wrote. The literature relating to my topic has so many different themes, and so I was forever going back and forth to sources to add things into my literature review – it feels like it has taken forever to get to this point! I’m so glad that part of my dissertation is done (for now – I might add to it as I go along). Because it’s taken a while to get to this point, I’m actually quite looking forward to progressing with writing up my analysis and findings. I think that’s the best thing about doing a dissertation – you feel quite proud of your research because it’s your own, no one has done the same as you, or at least they haven’t done it like you.
Whilst the analysis I’m doing at the moment is interesting, it hasn’t taken away the stress completely! As I write this, it’s eight weeks until my dissertation is due. I know that eight weeks will fly by, and so I find it really daunting – I’ve so much to do between now and the hand-in date. It’s been a stressful month juggling finishing my literature review with my analysis, and then there was the realisation of just how soon the deadline is! But, there are some things I’ve done to keep the stress to a minimum where possible. Here they are – maybe there’s a tip or trick here to help you!
Be organised – don’t give yourself a reason to be extra stressed!
It goes without saying. However, sometimes when you’re feeling overwhelmed with how much work you have to do it’s easy to put things off – it’s a vicious cycle. Despite these feelings, try to just get stuck in! Keep on track with to-do lists and tick your tasks off as you go. Poor organisation only adds to your stress, and so if you stay organised it prevents any unnecessary worrying. When you are productive, you make progress. It will have you feeling so much better!
Whether the ideas are flowing easily or you’re having to try extra hard to get things down, it doesn’t matter – just write! It’s easy to put it off when you aren’t in the mood to sit and write. You might not be entirely happy with the outcome, but you can always go back to what you’ve done and edit it. On the other hand, you might surprise yourself; once you get into writing it might come a little more naturally than you first expected.
Make time daily to do something you enjoy
As important as it is to be productive, it’s equally as important to reward yourself for your hard work. If you work all of the time and don’t make any time for yourself, you’ll be exhausted. Set some time aside for yourself to do something you enjoy. It could be anything – meeting a friend, going for a walk, reading a book and so on. It’s not what you do that’s important, it’s the fact you set time aside to have a break and do something you enjoy.
Talk about it!
Plenty of your friends and coursemates will be experiencing the same worries and stress as you, so open up to them and share how you feel. Sometimes, just knowing you aren’t the only person to feel this way can really help. And if you have any issues specifically regarding your dissertation that can be resolved, always remember to talk to your supervisor – it’s exactly what they are there for!