Almost all university students must come face-to-face with the gargantuan task of writing a thesis at least once in their academic career. A thesis can be defined as a long essay or dissertation that involves personal research and is structured around one argument. Therefore, a thesis is restricted to one debate on one particular topic. Since a thesis requires consistency in one’s argument, it is important to start working on your thesis as soon as possible. For all the procrastinators out there, this means that you need to accomplish a lot of work in a minimal amount of time. However, with the right structure and game plan, finishing a thesis in as little time as possible is not only possible but also doable.

The first tip is to make a plan. Making a plan does not mean you have to sit down and rack your brain about the research you have to do; rather, it means outlining an overall structure to adhere to. For instance, if your thesis comprises a philosophical theory that can be applied to a piece of literature, you can structure your thesis as follows: begin with an introduction on the theory, a literature review for your research, and how you plan to write your analysis. A structure is essentially a broad outline of your thesis. Once this is done, a thesis will no longer seem like a daunting task, as it can be broken into smaller, more doable chapters, making it easier to begin research and writing.

The next tip is to get off of social media completely or at least limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Apps such as Facebook and Instagram are very distracting; you may wish to spend only a few minutes on them, but you will end up wasting hours because there is so much content to go through. Set a timer when you use social media; limit your time to about 10 minutes or so to make sure you don’t lose track of the work ahead of you.

The next tip is to plan your breaks well. Remember that you are only human, and working on a heavy project like a thesis will be mentally taxing. It is impossible to work continuously for 24 hours, so make sure you stay physically and mentally healthy throughout the process. Remember to have all three meals a day—skipping meals to do work may mean that you get more work done, but you will tire yourself out and will not be able to work for the rest of the day. Do not overwork yourself in the very beginning.

Create a daily plan for yourself—include 10-minute breaks every half an hour (you can schedule social media breaks this way if you do not want to go cold turkey); make sure you get up and stretch your limbs (sitting in one place all day can cause long-term damage to your body), and make sure you are well-fed and hydrated. Writing a thesis can be mentally exhausting; therefore, it is important to keep yourself healthy. Working constantly will only lead to burnout, and, as a result, you will not be able to write well. However, if you keep yourself healthy, it will be easier to focus, construct a proper argument, and write well. When it comes to writing a thesis, it is important to use the right language to get your argument across; exhausting yourself will only cause more problems.

One useful tip is to work with others. Although a thesis is an individual project, it is easier to work when others are working around you rather than sitting at home (with multiple possible distractions). If possible, try to work on your thesis in college or at a library. Quiet places will help you focus, and working with dedication for a few hours in such a place will be more productive than working at home, where you have access to several distractions. Spending 2 hours at a library will produce more competent work than spending 4 hours at home, where there are other things to distract your attention.

One final tip is to make sure you receive proper guidance for your thesis. Students writing a thesis usually have a professor to guide them. Make sure that you set up meetings with your professor (or thesis guide); setting these deadlines will motivate you to accomplish a certain task within a certain timeframe. Your professor will also be able to guide you on the next step you need to take. I found it useful to meet my guide twice a week. In every meeting, we discussed a chapter I had written and planned out how the next chapter would be structured. Your professor can guide you to more accessible resources and a coherent academic style of writing.

Writing a thesis can seem daunting, especially when you first join college. However, try to think of a thesis not as a massive work but as a collection of chapters. With each chapter you write, you are one step closer to completing your thesis. With a clear-cut outline and regular meetings (and deadlines), it can become much easier to start writing.

The first step can often seem like the hardest, but by taking smaller steps, such as creating an outline or setting up a plan for yourself, it becomes easier and more doable. By the end of it, you will be surprised to see that the small steps you took resulted in a complete thesis! For procrastinators, the goal is to finish the thesis on time. Setting your own deadlines (with the help of a professor) will ensure that you finish smaller goals—each small step eventually adds up to a complete thesis.