Working on your thesis in corona times.

Renée studies Applied Psychology at Hanze and is currently writing her thesis. We asked her what her days look like at the moment, as well as how being locked down affects her and her final assignment.

What does a normal day look like for you?
‘I used to wake up really early in the morning before we would go into quarantine, now I wake up later than usual, but always before 10 am. I live in a house where all of my roommates have their own big rooms, and I have two smaller separate rooms. Once I wake up I will usually go to my other room and clean up, since this is the room where I spent almost all of my time. It’s where I study and spend my free time and also where I hang out with my roommates in the evenings. I always like starting off the day fresh, in a clean room. I eat breakfast and once that’s digested, I either go for a jog or I do the weekly grocery shopping for my grandma. She lives alone and I do not want her to go outside and get exposed right now, so I just go and shop for all that she needs and bring it to her door.’

I enjoy having people around me, so I do not mind being distracted every now and then

‘Once I am done with all of this I normally go back home and start working on my thesis. This sometimes takes hours and by the time I am done for the day, it is usually already dinner time. If I still have some time left before dinner, I like to practice playing my bass guitar. Once I finish my dinner, I gather together with my roommates and we spend the evening talking or playing board games.’

How much different would it be if you weren’t in quarantine?
‘I normally wake up really early in the morning and go directly to the gym. Once I would be done with the gym, I would go back home, have a quick breakfast and leave for the library, where I would spend a big part of my day. As for the evenings, they are quite similar. Sometimes I would also go play pool with friends or go out partying.’

Is it harder working on your thesis when you have three other people in the house at all times?
I must admit it’s harder than being in the library, because I am easily distracted and when I hear people laughing in the kitchen, I always want to go and check out what’s happening. I enjoy having people around me, so I do not mind being distracted every now and then. Actually, I think that if I was to live alone in a house, I would probably be much more distracted. My roommates also need to study for their exams, seeing them study sometimes motivates me as well.’

I tried to create a working environment which helps me work better

What struggles do you encounter when working on your thesis from home?
‘Boredom is the biggest struggle I experience, always being in the same room by myself, working. I have breakfast in this room, I study here, I spend time with my roommates, it’s always the same room. This makes it hard sometimes and it makes me want to just go and study somewhere else, but unfortunately, I cannot because of the quarantine.’

How do you keep yourself motivated?
‘I tried to create a working environment which helps me work better. I bought a whiteboard on which I write my weekly to-do list. I created a deadline overview which I placed on the wall so I can always check when my next deadline is, and I also created a type of a scrum board which helps me track what I am currently working on and what still needs to be done after. Having all this in the room around me makes it look more like my office, it motivates me to work harder.’

One other funny thing which keeps me motivated is chocolate – eating chocolate makes me happy

‘Another thing is being well prepared before I start my research. Knowing how different theories that I might use, work or how to properly analyze collected data helps me to stay motivated. If I would do it without knowing how it actually works, it would just stress me out more and demotivate me. I also really want to make my supervisors proud, I respect that they put their trust in me with this assignment and I do not want to disappoint them. The police is also where I want to work in the future, so that makes it even more special for me. If they remember me as a student who was really smart and dedicated before officially working for them, that for sure leaves a good impression.

‘One other funny thing which keeps me motivated is chocolate – eating chocolate makes me happy. If I am in the library and I eat a whole bag of M&Ms, I feel judged by everyone around me. At home, I can do that and be at peace with it.’

Would you have been more motivated to work on your thesis if we weren’t in quarantine?
‘Definitely not. I would have been even less motivated, because I would be distracted from all of the fun stuff I could do outside of the house. I would be sitting in the library and think about all the places I could go and not be motivated at all. Right now I cannot go anywhere else than just stay home, and I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. I am here, I cannot go anywhere, so I might as well just spend my time productively working on my thesis!’

Renée’s tips
• For the people who are alone in their house and working on important school assignments: take breaks and call friends, talk with them and by doing this relieve some of the stress of constantly thinking about the assignments and deadlines.
• Make a full deadline overview and place it somewhere visible in your ‘office space’. Being able to see when you have to submit your next draft always helps.
• Make a weekly to-do list with what you’d like to complete during the week, checking out tasks from the to-do list will always give you a really nice and rewarding feeling, which will motivate you to do more.
• Listen to yourself, know when you are feeling concentrated and motivated to work and when not. If you are not feeling it, go and do something else and come back again later. It’s pointless to waste time trying to work when you just cannot do it.