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I remember it all too well: You experience a great sense of achievement, success and pride at the
end of your master’s academic year. The thesis component of your degree is looming. Your research
proposal is accepted and with rejuvenated energy and passion, you plan your timeframe for the year
ahead. You are confident, enthusiastic and rearing to go.  But, have you considered the sacrifices you have to make?

It is possible that at some stage your panic monster sets in. It may dawn on you that you’ve
signed up for a commitment that, apart from being extremely demanding on you, also has
repercussions for your family, work, hobbies and friends and requires sacrifices that you haven’t even thought of.

At this stage you may regress into either a frantic or depressive state, which may cause a needless delay to your graduation date. The consequence of this exposes you to an unnecessary and extended period of unwarranted stress.


1. Give stuff up – sacrifice them

Contract with yourself on the sacrifices you are and are not willing to make during your thesis programme and list them. Golfing Wednesday afternoons with long evenings at the 19th hole OR Thursday night book club with wine snacks OR Sunday picnics with the kids: what can you or are you willing to give up?

2. Schedule time for hijackers

Identify all the support systems in your life and list them. You must communicate, either verbally or in writing, your intentions for the year. In other words, specify your unavailability, the importance of this work for you, the support you require and the impact this will have on them.

3. Secure the necessary help

Appoint and contract with an accredited language and technical editor, preferably one that has been recommended by your particular institution. This will save you energy and distress later on when the finish line is in sight.

4. Identify nasty success blockers

Identify any potential obstacles that could hamper your progress: for example, finances, employment opportunities and psychological constraints such as procrastination, perfectionism, fear of failure, addictions, etc. These must be acknowledged honestly and listed because they represent a level of personal awareness, which can be unpacked as they surface.

5. How tech savvy are you?

Identify the level of computing skill and additional software you think you might need to create your
research report, for example:
 Your level of competency to generate an automated table of contents.
 The software you need to draw diagrams and / or process charts to show conceptualisation of your findings.
 What language do you want to use: UK or US English? Learn how to check spelling and grammar, how to use Thesaurus, and how to find synonyms and acronyms.

6. Get your shite together

Start a timeline to highlight dates for your specific deliverables. Select your preferred project management style to help navigate your process and progress. Use daily, weekly and monthly planning tools to record your specific goals and deliverables. And, don’t forget to build in extra time for unexpected events that could interrupt your plan.