10. Mini Project – Look Yourself in the Mirror

This is the tenth article in the fourteen-part series ‘Dissertation Writing from Start to Finish’. For the full list of articles click here

Today I have a mini project for you.

Something I did (almost) every morning of my university career was look myself in the mirror and think “What’s going to be most useful for me to do today?” I want you to do the same. 

I asked myself this in all areas of my life, but you can apply it specifically to writing your diss. When you sit down at your desk to work on it, first take 30 seconds to think “Where am I with this?” and “What is my most useful next step?”

You can take this a step further and make that next step your ‘goal for the day’, the one thing you will do that day no matter what else happens. Even if you do nothing else (on your diss or otherwise), you can still feel satisfied because you completed that one thing. 

This will hopefully also build some self-awareness into your dissertation process; only do the things that are academically useful for you, and not wasting your time with the rest.


If you are struggling with a to-do list as long as your arm, a good, old-fashioned Eisenhower matrix might help. 

This is a three step process

  1. Rank each task as urgent/not urgent and important/not important;
  2. Put the task into the correct quadrant; and 
  3. Do/plan/delegate/eliminate, in that order.


Let me know how this project worked for you in the comments below. In the next article we discuss refining your dissertation’s structure and arguments; you can find it here.

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