Monday, June 02, 2008

The Lessons of the Thesis

About two years ago, quite a while before I even knew what subject I would choose for my thesis, I didn't really see the point of writing a thesis. Sure, it was required to get my master's degree but what could I possibly learn from writing it that would be useful when getting a job out in the real world?

Flash forward a few years. I've been working on my thesis since May 10. I should have started a while before but that didn't happen. Thesis work is quite different from having courses. When you have courses, you read the required material*, show up for the lectures*, hand in the mandatory hand-ins, look at the exercises, show up for the exercises, email your TA and what not. You always know what you should be doing.

At any given day there is always more you could be doing. But if you've prepared for all lectures and exercise classes the next day and you've planned a bit ahead so you can still meet all your deadlines, you really don't have to do any more. You've been a good student and you can take a break. When you've met a deadline, you might have a few beers with your friends. While this may hurt your short-term productivity, the deadlines ensure that you make up for it later.

So how does this compare to thesis work? Well. Right now I have 1 deadline. It's November 10 when I have to hand in my finished thesis. I have no scheduled lectures or exercises. I have no hand-ins. In short, I have no short-term deadlines that automatically make me work. On the other hand my biggest vice is that I procrastinate an awful lot. Yeah. That's not a good combo.

One could see this as a bad thing. I choose to see it as an excellent opportunity. I'm finally forced to beat the procrastination even without a deadline nearby. I can already see myself making progress. I'm learning how to hack myself. How to get stuff done without a solid deadline. How to learn stuff on my own. When I finally hand in that thesis, I'm going to be Wonder Woman!

*Well, I do, anyway.


Frigg said...

En tidsplan med delmål - det er det, der skal til! ;)

zebrahest said...

Jo da. Det lyder alletiders. Men det kræver jo også, at jeg har en anelse om, hvad jeg skal lave … :)

Frigg said...

Ved du ikke det endnu? Så må det første delmål da være at finde ud af det...

zebrahest said...

Jo jo, jeg har da et emne og alt det der. Men det er jo ikke ligefrem, fordi jeg har skrevet et speciale før! Så det er lidt fremmed territorie.