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I am currently in the writing phase of my thesis. Factors related to and unrelated to academia are putting me under "nice" amount of pressure. it became much harder for me to concentrate on reading or writing and always end up procrastinating much of the time.

What are good strategies to get back on track in regards to managing my thesis work? When should one consider psychiatric counseling?

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Don't try to limit procrastination. You have already tried that and it didn't work. Instead, limit the time that you spend writing, but during writing time, write and do nothing else.

The limitation of your permissible writing time should feel like a real constraint. Ideally, when the time is up, you should feel strongly inclined to write 'just one more sentence'. Don't. It's best to stop mid-sentence, as this makes it easy to get going on the next day.

The duration should also feel doable. Forget about 'making up for lost time'. If your are a heavy procrastinator with strong anxiety, start with half an hour or less. Three hours should be the maximum if you schedule daily writing sessions, which I recommend. Remember to take breaks during which you move away from the desk. The 'pomodoro technique' can be useful to divide time into manageable chuncks of writing/working and rest/recovery.

Don't ever allow yourself to write once the allotted time period has expired, until the following day. You might waste scarce writing time by procrastinating once, perhaps twice, but probably not more.

This is how I finished my PhD thesis.

Regarding counseling: Consider counseling or therapy if you feel depressed, anxious, or have trouble sleeping for more than ten days in a row.

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  • Yes. I took six weeks off my writing phase to "research" quotations about coffee, which I wanted to place at the beginning of each chapter of my thesis. It gave me a much-needed respite, and when I got back to thesis-writing, it was much easier. – Peter K. Dec 28 '18 at 1:33
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Start with why and determine the reasons behind doing a particular work!

The following three strategies have worked for me:

First, slice your project into several tasks.

Second, for each 45 minutes of working time, dedicate 15 minutes of rest time. (important: that 45 minute task must be completely focused task)

And last but not not least, plan for the time block. Exactly write down what you will do (step by step) during the time block you have dedicated for a task.

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