I’ve finally handed in my Bachelor’s thesis. It’s done. It took me months longer than I had planned, but it really is all done and ready to be put in covers after our return from the team’s last project that we’ll do in Mexico. After spending all those ,minutes, hours, days and months on the thesis, it would be a waste not to reflect on some of the mistakes, shortcomings and difficulties that came along the way. Here are the three biggest failures, how I managed to overcome them, and what I learned in the process.
Yeah, that kinda happened. A lot. I managed to go from completing the thesis in a few months to taking nearly 11 months to finish it and send it in for review. I managed to procrastinate with pretty much everything, from cleaning up my apartment to going to work. Yes, I really did go to work on a day off just so I could have an excuse not to do the thesis.
What I learned from all the procrastination was that my personal response to having loads of small things that need completing is “let’s tackle this sh*t” and I get high levels of satisfaction and excitement from having a variety of tasks to sort out and check off the to do list. However, when something needs my attention for days and weeks on end, my brain starts treating it as an enemy. There were plenty of times I felt good for two to three hours of working on the thesis, but then got frustrated at the seemingly never-ending task and started napping on the couch. Realizing this made me understand how to schedule and structure my workdays to be as efficient as possible. One of the best ideas was to break larger things down to smaller tasks to be able to gain the feeling of satisfaction when I completed it. Many people recommend doing it so that you can time the work more easily and make it easier to focus on the specific part of the work. For me personally, it’s purely for the satisfaction of checking off a task from the to do list.
2. Research and feedback schedule
Initially when I decided to do qualitative research into web design, I imagined four to six clients to whom I’d build a website to. That number went up to sixteen websites, and I still thought of it as a good idea. The time frame completely blew up, which is why making changes and being able to say “no, unfortunately that just is not realistic” and pivot would have been the reasonable thing to do. But I didn’t, I pushed on. Next time, I’ll give it a little more thought.
Another way the research part went wrong was the time it took to gather feedback. When dealing with human beings, apparently expecting feedback within three to five days of asking for it and delivering the website as agreed was too fast. At worst, it took three weeks to get a single piece of feedback needed before being able to move forward. In the future making more time available to the process and designing the research questionnaire to allow for fast feedback giving is a must.
3. The depth of theoretical knowledge
This came to me as a bit of shocker actually, whereas the two previous ones were something I could have foreseen. I read about five books in total on the different theoretical topics I was planning on including into my thesis, and when the time came to write, I couldn’t really make any sense of the whole picture. I had to spend far more time reading, analyzing and connecting all sorts of different materials to make sense of it all. Understanding specific theoretical points is far easier when you don’t need to build an intertwining web of different methodologies and frameworks to be used in conjunction with each other. If I ever work on projects of this scale in the future, I need to plan for far more time to read and analyze the theory.
All in all, the thesis was a stressful and annoying piece of work that took me 11 months to complete. And now I’m happy it’s done, I learned a lot of useful things about lengthy projects and academic work, and I’m proud of it all.