Is it time to start working on your bachelor’s or master’s thesis? On this page, you will find tips for completing theses and taking care of your well-being during the process!
How to get started
At first, you should consider what you want from your thesis. Is your goal to continue your studies or is it enough for you to complete the thesis? What kind of standard do you want to set for yourself? Also, consider if your resources match the requirements of the standard you set.
Familiarize yourself carefully with the thesis process. When you know the criteria your work needs to meet, it will be easier for you to get started. You will find links to both of the thesis guidelines of Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Lapland in for information section at the end of this page.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help! If you feel stuck with your work, ask your thesis supervisor for assistance. The university social worker can also support you in your work.
Thesis outlining and process-orientedness
Writing a thesis is a process. Few can write a perfect text in one go without needing to edit it later. So, try to tolerate the imperfections of your text from the beginning. Outline your thesis: use color codes and exclamation marks, write “Continue this” and organize your thoughts into lists. You will return to the text later anyway and then you might know exactly how you want to edit or continue your text.
In thesis outlining, you can use different idea and concept maps, word lists and combinations of these. Some like sticky notes, and others prefer to draw. Some students also set target page count in addition to their thesis plan. By trying, you will find out what works best for you!
By breaking it down, you reduce your workload
Your thesis can easily become a monster in your thoughts if you can’t break it down into smaller pieces. Instead of sitting down to “write your thesis”, sit down to write the definition of concepts, search for theoretical foundations for one thing at a time, transcribe the answers to one question, and so on. By breaking your thesis into smaller pieces, you reduce your workload and achieve success more easily!
Remember that it’s easier to peel one potato at a time from a pot full of potatoes – the same applies to thesis writing. So, focus on one small thing at a time!
Breaking it down can be done with the help of your thesis outline. You can handle the sections of an idea or concept map and words from word lists one by one. Additionally, you can break down your workload by the number of pages, for example, by writing half a page per day. You will find out what suits you best by trying – in this case as well.
How to schedule your thesis
It is important to plan in advance, what you will do and when. You can create a timetable for yourself and mark when you start and finish working. By sticking to your working times, it is easier to give yourself a permission to have a free evening from working on your thesis.
Try to schedule at least one day off for yourself during each working week. Also, plan breaks during your working day. You can use alarms to remind you to take a break if it doesn’t come naturally. Using the Pomodoro technique can help with starting difficulties and taking breaks, and you can find ready-made templates for it on platforms like YouTube. If you want someone else to take care of your breaks, try our Study Retreat! There, a well-being instructor will time your work for you!
Remember to also include micro breaks in your work where you correct your posture or rotate your shoulders, for example. Lift your gaze from the computer screen, look out the window, and focus your gaze as far away as possible. This way your eyes also get the break they need, while working on computer.
10 minute rule
Is your work getting stuck? Procrastination, or the act of postponing tasks, affects most students at some point during their studies. Sometimes you feel worse or more tired, or have difficulty concentrating. The 10-minute rule can help if starting feels overwhelming. Decide that today you will work on a section of your thesis for only 10 minutes.
Working for 10 minutes is better than not working at all, as it moves your work forward. And if you feel motivated to continue after 10 minutes, then go for it!
Sometimes to read through the text you have written and jot down any emerging thoughts is enough work for one day. Not every day needs to be productive and efficient, as the process of writing a thesis also includes periods of struggle. In those moments, it’s worth considering whether it’s time to take a short break and continue, for example, the next day. However, don’t take too long of a break, as it may increase the resistance to starting again.
You can find more tips on overcoming difficulties in starting in the section on Time management and planning.
Remember to eat well and exercise
During the thesis process, it is worthwhile to invest in meal planning. Regular eating keeps blood glucose levels steady and helps sustain energy throughout the entire study day. According to the nutrition recommendations of the Finnish Food Authority, it is good for you to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks per day. If cooking feels burdensome, try making larger quantities at once and freezing food in portions. It is also good to have various easy snacks available for studying days.
Remember to drink water as well, as research shows that adequate hydration helps with concentration and improves memory. You can incorporate a routine into your studying days, such as taking breaks to drink a glass of water, which also gives you a break from sitting at your desk. Stretching your neck and shoulder area is also important when working on a computer. Feel free to try out various exercise routines available online and try to incorporate them into your studying day routine. You can find more tips in our Material bank.
If you would like personal guidance regarding overall physical well-being, starting exercise, or maintaining energy, you can contact wellness instructor Mika Vettainen (firstname.lastname@example.org, 040 182 6341).
Rest and Recover during your thesis process
Writing a thesis is a long process, during which it is important to take care of one’s well-being. A good rule is 8/8/8, which means using (if possible) 8 hours for sleeping, 8 hours for work, and 8 hours for free time per day. Sufficient sleep is important, and as a counterbalance to working on the thesis, it is also good to have meaningful activities.
So, think about what things make your everyday life good. Do something meaningful every day, something that you truly enjoy. The activity doesn’t have to be expensive or amazing, but small acts of joy, such as having a cup of tea outdoors or calling a friend.
During the thesis process, it is also important to have days off, when you give yourself permission to not think about your thesis at all. It is recommended to schedule these days in advance, so it is easier to actually have them as days off.
Sometimes, being lazy is an important part of moving the process forward!
Shadow thesis and chunking technique
Shadow thesis and chunking technique can help you in the conceptualization and data collection phases of your thesis. The so-called shadow thesis is a separate file that you can compile during the thesis process. There, you can save the text you have written, interesting theoretical links, and other materials that you are not sure if you want to include in your final work. From the shadow thesis, you can then pick the sections you want to use during the process and leave out those that you do not need. Remember to make accurate source references from the beginning!
Chunking technique refers to a research method where you first collect all possible materials for yourself as a “chunk” and then start sorting and organizing the information you have gathered. Chunking technique can include notes, handouts, source literature, and saved links. By organizing the collected material, you can outline your work as a whole. Remember to make accurate source references when using the chunking technique as well!
Try writing exercises as needed or routinely before starting work. The exercises help automate writing and orient oneself to work, but also in producing content.
- Free writing
When starting is challenging or when you want to automate writing! You can do a free writing exercise as needed or routinely before starting actual writing work.
Write anything for example 10 minutes. Don’t think about grammar or whether the text makes sense. Leave your brain at the door and just write!
- Controlled free writing
When starting is challenging or when you want to automate writing!
Do as above, but decide on a topic to write about at the beginning. If you deviate from the path while writing, go back. Don’t think about grammar or whether the text makes sense.
The idea of cubing is to explore different aspects of the same topic, diversify or add text.
Decide on a topic to write about and then write for 5 minutes from one perspective, or “side of the cube.” The sides of the cube are:
– Select good and bad aspects
Looping helps in finding important thoughts and adding text.
Write for a predetermined time (e.g. 5 minutes) about a chosen topic. Then select the most important points/sentences from what you wrote and write again for a predetermined time. Repeat a few times.