I have been lucky to have several friends send me advice on how to approach the final edits of a PhD (or DPhil!), what are the final laps in the stadium after a cross country marathon.
I know some of you are writing too, so I thought I would share them (you can tell when I've added my words). They're more PhD-specific than the general academic tips I shared a year ago. All the best and please do let me know if you have any more to add.
- Carve out huge chunks of time to focus.
- Set a submission date.
- Love the calendar. Set small, manageable, time-specific tasks and make a submission calendar. Tick off targets, be excited about your progress. Know exactly where you stand.
- Keep yourself energised. Too many people stop exercising when finishing up DPhil. Keep exercising. Take energising breaks. Become more interested in nature, like pretty flowers and families of ducks. Take deep breaths. Try to rest. Sleep. Routine. Get enough time to reflect, rather than just producing; make sure you are intentional about lifting your head above the water line.
- Manage the supervisor relationship. Take responsibility for your own submission. Show the supervisor your submission timetable and stick to it. Make supervisor feel confident in you, but also realise that he or she doesn't have to be for you to finish. Like all good Jedi Padawans, you must outgrow your master.
- Know that it can be done. When the task seems insurmountable, consider those who had gone before. If they could do it, so can you. Remember why you're here, that you deserve to be here, and that it can be done. A useful mantra to say, even out loud, is "I can do this".
- Find a proof reader. Find someone who will read your whole thesis, nudge you back in line when you've lost perspective, check for typos, make useful (but not too ambitious) suggestions.
- Get Brutal. Instead of trying to rework patchy sections, just cut 'em.
- It's about the "I-will". Finishing a doctorate may be less about the "IQ" than the "I-will". Finishing requires a tremendous amount of will. Dig deep, and get stubborn.
- Just Say No. Anything that is not work or energising rest is a distraction.