Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins
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What if you have to finish your thesis in two months. Here you are, in the summer, seeing everybody having fun, everybody enjoying the hot weather, their holiday, their free time. But you have to write a thesis. This can be a problem and the deadline is only two months away right? But on the other hand, the deadline is ONLY two months away!

Constant fear
Working with a deadline will give you a constant fear, because you always have the deadline in mind. Of course, having a deadline is the best reason for procrastination, you have two months left, so why start now if you can also start tomorrow! I’ve written two articles on procrastination, why people put things off. The conventional theory is because it is just human nature, we want to wait till the very end of the deadline, so we have to work really hard to get the job done. What I think, and I call that the New Theory, is that people just LOVE procrastination, for three reasons:

  1. The moment itself – you will do things that you like more
  2. The satisfying feeling afterwards – You will feel more satisfied if you did a job in a short amount of time.
  3. You tell everyone – People will notice it and admire you of how fast you can do something.

Admit that you love procrastination and you’ve solved 50% of the problem. Now just don’t give in, just do the job you have to do.

Parkinson’s law
Only two months left and you are starting to freak out? There is so much to do in so little time? Let me tell you one thing, it isn’t that bad at all. And that is because of Parkinson’s law. Parkinson’s law says: ‘Work expands with the amount of time you give it.‘ This means that if you have 2 hours to make a presentation instead of 1, you will make a great presentation, with cool pictures. A good looking presentation. But if you have only 1 hour, the presentation will still be good, but it won’t have the best lay-out ever. A bad thing? Probably not, you’ve saved 50% of your time.

This is the same with your thesis you need to write. You don’t have a lot of time left anymore, but that isn’t a bad thing, basicly because you can now focus on the core content! What really matters to your thesis instead of all the layout tweaks and options.

80/20 principle
And that brings us to the 80/20 principle. If you look at your thesis at a whole project, you will notice that 80% of your time will be in 20% of your thesis, like lay-out. You are probably working a lot on the lay-out, because you find it really important to make that very good. But you should try to use your time and effort for the things that really matter, the important 80%. This means you should try to eliminate things out of the 20% from above. If that 20% is taking up so much of your time, try to find ways of eliminating it. Maybe you can outsource the lay-out to your nephew who is really into graphics and everything. Locate where 80% of your time is going to and see if that is only 20% of the project you are working on. If so, try to eliminate that 20% or find ways to reduce the amount of work what it takes.

Get in the flow and get sh*t done!
Everything what is left now is YOU writing the thesis. Do it, stop procrastinating and get to work. Wake up early, take a shower and have a good breakfast. Make a cup of coffee for yourself and just start writing. Shut everything else down, just write. Within 15 minutes you will be in the flow and you will get sh*t done. If you have problems with starting to write, just do it. Write and after 15 minutes you will be fine. Before you stop writing, look over the first 15 minutes of writing and edit it and it will be as good as the rest again. Have a routine, set up rituals. Schedule 6 hours a day for writing, for a week long. And at the end of the week, look back at what you have done and be satisfied with what you have accomplished, you can rest in the weekends again. Monday again? Start writing again. Your thesis will get shape and you will be finished, in time, without fear and with a great end product! Good luck.

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