The postgraduate experience is such an exciting one, yet many people find the prospect of directing their own learning and research (often for the first time) somewhat daunting after the more structured experience of the undergraduate learning system. However, keeping on top of your PG studies is very easy if you follow the 5 guidelines below.
1. Revise topics regularly
Postgraduate study is all about deepening your thinking further than you did at undergrad level. So, that means that revising topics you have learnt – as well as going back over undergraduate material in order to consolidate your understanding – this is an excellent way to keep on top of that postgrad dissertation. Time spent revising topics is certainly not time wasted: it is definitely as productive as time spent learning new things.
2. Plan your dissertation well in advance
Time spent planning your dissertation is extremely useful time. Planning ought not to be thought of as a precursor to work: it is valuable work in its own right. Some handy dissertation planning tips can be found here. In addition, make sure to start drafting your dissertation as soon as possible. It is essential to get your thoughts on paper from the beginning and edit them regularly so that you have something to work with from the start. It is very hard (in fact, it is pretty much impossible) to write a perfect draft of a PG thesis from scratch.
3. Meet with your supervisor regularly
Regular contact time with your PG supervisor will keep you on track with your deadlines, and will enable you to make the most of you’re their experience and wisdom. It will also enable you to establish a strong relationship with your supervisor.
4. Establish a relationship with your postgraduate peers
It’s great if you can establish a good relationship with the other students on your postgrad program. If you can meet up regularly outside of your seminars and lectures to bounce ideas off each other, chat about your research and share tips and tricks about how to overcome writers' block or ways to find the best spaces in the university library. Hanging out with your peers is also a great way of getting the emotional support that you will need during a long project such as a PhD. And, of course, you may well make friends for life.
Stress can drain your productivity levels, and attaining a good work life balance is crucial if you want your PG studies to be both successful and enjoyable. Take up a practical hobby, play sport at the weekends, or see if your university offers free yoga or mindfulness classes to help students to de-stress. As well as helping you to relax, meditation and mindfulness can help you to work more productively on your thesis too.