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Top Ten Dissertation Completion Strategies

Strategy 1: Project Manager

Think of yourself as the project manager, which means you have the responsibilities that go along with that role.  The most important of these is to think strategically about how you plan to work toward the long-terms goals on a day-to-day basis. It will also be necessary to manage your own work, which means developing a system for holding yourself accountable for goals. 

Strategy 2: Productivity

As project manager, you are in charge of productivity.  Because the thesis is such a large project, even minor changes in your productivity can add a considerable amount of time necessary to complete the project. There will always be some variability in your productivity. The goal is to make productivity a primary focus of your work by systematically reviewing it.

Strategy 3: Persistence

The ability to continue working despite challenges and obstacles has been defined in the research literature as “persistence."  The ability to persist despite obstacles is critical for success on large projects because there will inevitably be numerous disruptions during the course of your work. There is evidence that persistence is more important than aptitude in terms of project completion. It also appears that persistence is a skill that can be developed with practice.

Strategy 4: Routines and Structure

It is possible to manage small projects by relying primarily on deadlines to organize and structure your work. This strategy is less effective on large projects, which require a more systematic approach and the development of short-term goals that structure the work. It may be helpful to think about the project as a series of steps.

Strategy 5: Workplace Distractions

As project manager, one of your biggest challenges will be managing distractions. A distraction may prevent you from starting a task or interrupt the work you are already doing. Either way, distractions affect productivity, and it is your task to develop strategies for managing these issues effectively.

Strategy 6: Software Tools

There are numerous software tools available to assist with tasks associated with project management, time management, goal setting, and accountability. Evaluate what types of tools would assist you in being more productive and utilize them in ways that assist in meeting your goals.

Strategy 7: Mobile Workplaces

The workplace has become more mobile due to the availability of laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi.  As project manager, you want to capitalize on this flexibility by selecting workplaces where you will be most productive. Avoid workplaces where your productivity is typically low, and be willing to experiment with new workplaces whenever you are working inconsistently or become stuck on a particular task.

Strategy 8: Accountability

The responsibility for monitoring an employee’s productivity is often assigned to the project manager. Because accountability will primarily be your responsibility, it is necessary for you to develop a system for monitoring your work and making adjustments whenever you are not meeting your goals.

Strategy 9: Creativity and Flexibility

In order to complete a challenging project, it is often necessary to experiment with new approaches to managing tasks. Be willing to try something new even if it seems inconsistent with your typical work style. Remember, if you’re not meeting your goals, then the strategies you’re using now aren’t sufficient.

Strategy 10: Wellness

Many professionals work long hours either because it feels necessary to do so in order to complete the work or because they feel an obligation or personal responsibility to do so.