1. Check In (10)
  2. Workplan Reviews (30)
  3. Three Preseminars (75+10)

Two Lessons: It Has to Be A QUESTION and Mountains With Stairs

There is no way to have a good thesis semester if you don't feed the damn thing everyday. That means actually reading something, actually writing something down. Start not next week, but today.

The incredible intellectual inertia which operates to keep your body at rest at rest is natural and daunting. But it can be broken by a simple act. Just start. If it is the looming large that holds you back, remember: a mountain with stairs.

The way we make a mountain with stairs is divide and conquer + conservative estimates = consistent success.

Exercise 1: what does your typical week look like? Make a grid. Insert classes, work, sleep, and other fixed appointments. Put buffers around these to indicate travel time, startup and finishoff times, etc. Identify the open blocks and note their lengths.

Now hypothesize about what your ideal work session is like. For how long can you focus on one thing and be productive? Now identify all the blocks of this size in your week. Label them A, B, C, etc.

Exercise 2: Let's write an outline of your thesis

Front Matter
Introduction
Lit Review
Research Methods
Results
Interpretations
Conclusions
Bibliography

Next, let's guess at their length

Front Matter 5
Introduction 5
Lit Review 5
Research Methods 5
Results 5
Interpretations 5
Conclusions 5
Bibliography 5

And then let's estimate how quickly we can write a draft for each of these. For grin's sake, I'm going to assume I can write 2.5 pages per standard work session. This means each section will take two sessions to draft.

Section Pages Rate Sessions Needed
Front Matter 5 2.5 2
Introduction 5 2.5 2
Lit Review 5 2.5 2
Research Methods 5 2.5 2
Results 5 2.5 2
Interpretations 5 2.5 2
Conclusions 5 2.5 2
Bibliography 5 2.5 2

Next we pencil these in on our work plan.

Now repeat this but with the to do list you are looking at for this week.