Toni's motivation for writing his thesis left. So he's stuck waiting for it to come back. Unfortunately, it's not coming back on its own. Toni's gotta do something.

Here are some effective methods and techniques to overcome any lack of motivation. You can start using them right now, and they will even continue to serve you in your later in life. Surely you are already familiar with one or two of the techniques.

Motivation 1: "Quick wins"!

Success is fun... Many small successes can even make the thesis fun. So try something: quickly search for 20 sources with Google Scholar, design the first outline, collect the questions for the questionnaire or for your interviews, format the tables and figures, sort the English articles, make appointments with your supervisor or contact persons etc. then celebrate each of your small and quick successes as they will help you get past blockades!

We once made a whole list of so-called no-brainer here. These are small routine jobs that require little intellect but must be done. No-brainer function as tangible little rewards because your success is quickly apparent. Enjoy getting things done!

Motivation 2: Processing small tasks in batches

They are annoying, but they must be done: Small necessary tasks like scanning and copying, ordering books, making appointments, formatting, checking something or filing web pages...

If you don’t have enough motivation to write, analyze or do something similarly strenuous at the moment, then complete these tasks. Checking items off will bring new motivation very quickly! And this flow of tasks brings you back into the “getting things done” mood!  

Motivation 3: Set an appointment with your thesis supervisor

A task that is wonderfully suited to be completed when you’re stuck in the motivation hole: making an appointment with your supervisor. All you need to do is give them a quick call or send them a short e-mail. You don't have to meet right away. Appointments like this need a few days' notice. What luck! You can be sure that the days leading up to the consultation will be most productive. And what should you discuss with your supervisor? Show and discuss the results of your latest efforts.

Motivation 4: Fixed times for the hard tasks!

We all prefer to postpone hard tasks. And that makes it even harder... Set fixed times for a task. Designate each morning from 8.00 to 12.30 to writing and use the afternoon for research and reading. Habits help break excuses. You'd be surprised.

Motivation 5: Big rewards for success!

Immediate motivation comes from the achievement of intermediate goals. Treat yourself then! For example, you could go to the movies after 10 pages of writing, buy new shoes after you've finished all the expert interviews or go out to dinner when that darn bibliography is finally finished. Enjoy getting things done!

Motivation 6: Do something besides the thesis!

A second project other than the thesis can help motivate you to work on the thesis. Sounds weird but it's true. If you limit the hours you work on your thesis to fewer hours per day, you can be more productive. Work on other issues like polishing your application, learning another language or programming a video game (just kidding…). If you have less time to work on your thesis, you will increase the "pressure in the boiler" and thus your focus.

Motivation 7: Celebrate your "rituals" also during the thesis!

We as humans are creatures of habit and love rituals. When working on your bachelor's or master’s thesis, listen to a power song over and over again (try power songs on Spotify). Organize your desk in the morning, go for a walk at 1pm, browse YouTube in the morning to dispel sorrow and worries, etc...

If you don't have to worry about your daily routine, you can spend more time thinking about your thesis. Enjoy getting things done!

Motivation 8: Define and eliminate obstacles and distractions that will prevent you from writing

When you are stuck in the motivational hole, ask yourself: "What exactly is stopping me from continuing to write this chapter now? Why am I allowing the conclusion chapter to put me in a bad mood?"

Extra tip: Record a description of your current problem to an audio file and listen to it again tomorrow! You’ll be laughing at yourself. Do that every day and you don't be such a crybaby anymore.

Motivation 9: Compare yourself!

This is not the best advice for every situation but it can help when you’re stuck in the motivation hole. This is the so-called pilgrimage effect: you see others who are much worse off, who have critical diseases...

So go to the library, browse the shelves and calm down. You are not suffering alone. The thesis is not the end of your life but only the end of your career as a student! Enjoy getting things done!

Motivation 10: Follow-up project - life after the thesis

Everything has an end! Even if it is absolutely unimaginable for you just now: The moment will come when your bachelor's or master's thesis is printed and in front of you. Close your eyes and dream about it. You might want to do that every day...

Follow-up projects are very different for everyone. You could be going on a trip, searching for a new job, applying for an exotic internship, planning a wedding or starting a business. Thinking about what’s next will give you new energy and motivation. Write down that project and stick it to the pin board!

Good luck writing your text!

Silvio and the Team Aristolo

PS: Check out the Thesis-ABC and the Thesis Guide for writing a bachelor or master thesis in 31 days.

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