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I am in the situation where i have to write my Diploma Thesis/Documentation for the year and although I've done quite a lot I didn't particularly arrive at where I set out to be at this point. So in a way I missed my point but still I have to write my Documentation of what i did. Are there any effective measures I can take to make this Process as fruitful and pleasant as possible?

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You may benefit from reviewing the answers to the 'Committing to worthwhile activity' question in this forum: productivity.stackexchange.com/questions/209/… . Specifically, look around for communities of people supporting each other through dissertation process. –  Alexandre Rafalovitch Jul 5 '11 at 14:01
    
good tip, thanks. –  Moritz Laass Jul 7 '11 at 13:34
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

One approach which I've often found useful is to mentally recast the action as a more productive or fruitful approach. Perhaps your thesis is a chance to improve writing technical documents, or a chance to figure out how new approaches to get things working again. Perhaps there are important process or approach observations which can be gleaned from the work, and the thesis is a chance to highlight those instead of if you met your initial goal. Or perhaps it's a chance to simply warn not to follow.

I had one paper I had to write for a class, where I had to choose which Greek hero I'd want to be and why. I didn't particularly enjoy the idea of the paper, and procrastinated for a significant length of time. Eventually, I realized that while I didn't enjoy the concept of the paper, I was much more interested in the inverse - which heroes would I not want to be, and why. Inverting the premise, and somewhat humorously tearing the options apart, gave me the right frame of mind to enjoy the work, and made it much more fruitful. Sometimes how you look at the task and what you're trying to get out of it can significantly alter your motivation and commitment.

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Its quite difficult to I think to switch in a different state of mind, maybe a good follow up question, but after following advice from @Shady-m-Najib and @MathewMartin I really have a different view, and its much easier to work on the thesis. –  Moritz Laass Jul 13 '11 at 9:50
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A great point about many personal organization/productivity, is the notion of knowing when to stop or give up on projects that aren't of any interest to you.

That's because if you didn't, their "psychic" weight will always burden your mind, yet the fact that they became boring never helps you step any further in finishing them, and distract you from other projects that should have higher priority.

So, I think you should just give more time to projects that really interest you. Yet, add a recurring "actionable" tasks (may be even bound by short periods of time, say an hour or half an hour daily) to finish small pieces of your documentation process.

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thanks a lot, this was helpful. –  Moritz Laass Jul 13 '11 at 9:52
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When I end up working on a failed idea, I sometimes write it up anyhow because the value it provides is a warning to others that this is a dead end.

I'm making some assumptions here, you didn't post what your thesis was about. There is a question in philosophy about which end a gnat farts from, the front or the back. I suppose if my thesis was on that question, I might lose interest in it, not because the question is unanswerable, but because the question is fundamentally low-value. I imagine I'd have a hard time finishing that sort of thesis.

The experiments on measuring the properties of light passing through ether were a complete failure, but moved science forward. It's a good story of how science advances through personally unrewarding research.

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Thanks this was helpful, even though it was kind of painful, I am definately in a different place after having written down everything. –  Moritz Laass Jul 13 '11 at 9:50
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