A Day In The Life Of.. A Gal Struggling Through Her Dissertation

Dissertation. The one word that will increase breathing and send shivers down any third year’s spine. I am getting a bit sweaty just typing this.

I have decided to share my struggle, as a gal currently immersed in the horrors of her dissertation, to show other third years they’re not alone and to offer young and carefree second and first years some advice on how to manage it. I have written about one of the days that I have completely free (an ‘ideal’ day that really happens once in a blue moon because of all the other things I foolishly decided to do on top of my degree!), and have nothing but my looming diss to tackle…


I know, I know… to most students this is crazy early, but I love getting up and getting things done. So, my mornings usually consist of going to the gym, showering and getting changed (i.e. putting off starting work for as long as possible). This is where tip number 1 comes into play: make a plan before you start! I always use my early mornings to clear my head and set a goal for the day.

After all this serious prep, I settle down to tackle the mountain of books that just seems to keep growing. Like I said, I find that I am most productive in the morning so – besides a few obligatory sighs as I stare at the book pile – I tend to work through till lunch.


By this point I AM STARVING! I am one among the many whom hunger affects in a very real way (sorry housemates!) so when I need to eat, I need to eat! This leads me to tip number 2: FEED YOUR BRAIN! I think that it is so important to fuel yourself properly – and with food you love – when doing something as draining and potentially soul-destroying as your diss.


So, it hits 5pm and the world literally comes crashing down. You feel like you’ve reached breaking point and that if you read one more word you will lose the will to live. Tip three comes in handy now: TEA. I think that there are very few problems that a good cup of tea can’t solve. After this mini break, and forced repetition of my mantra *I love my dissertation*, I soldier on.


Again, food is always good, and dinner forces me to take a break. Plus, in my house we usually use this time as a group despair and therapy session. This is when we move through the various stages of panic. We threaten to give up, look at the prices of flights out of here, google potential career paths that don’t involve degrees… you name it, we’ve done it. After this melodramatic episode, we all take a deep breath and remember that it will be alright, and we will get through it.


After all the dramatics and writing and reading, I am pretty exhausted. This is where my final tip comes into play: Know when to stop. I know that anything I produce after 9pm will be utter rubbish, so once that clock chimes the books are shut, they resume their pile formation and the Disney movies come on. I think it is so important to reward yourself after a day of hard work, and some good music and princess-filled escapism is absolutely perfect.

So, there you have it, a day in the life of someone desperately trying to survive her dissertation. Like I said before, this day is somewhat unique because usually I am running to college sport, committees or work. But it does show you exactly how I tackle the dread and doom associated with dissertation work. Above all, I try and remember to be kind to myself and remind myself that we will all make it through alive. 





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