Home > Library > Blogs > How Many Hours A Day Should I Work On My Dissertation?

How Many Hours A Day Should I Work On My Dissertation?

Published by at April 9th, 2024 , Revised On April 23, 2024

The dissertation. The mere mention of it can send shivers down the spine of even the most intelligent graduate student. It is a culmination of years of research, writing, and intellectual exploration, and the pressure to produce a high-quality piece of work can be immense. One of the most common questions that plague dissertation writers is: “How many hours a day should I be working on it?”

There’s an attraction in throwing more hours at the problem. You might imagine successful dissertations are written in marathon sessions fuelled by copious amounts of coffee. But the reality is far more complicated.  Here is why focusing solely on hours is a recipe for burnout and, ultimately, unproductive writing.

The Myth Of The 8-Hour Dissertation Grind

Dissertations are not factory assembly lines where output increases proportionally with time invested. They are intellectual endeavours that demand focused attention, deep thinking, and bursts of creative energy. 

Sitting glued to your chair for eight hours a day staring at a blinking cursor is unlikely to yield brilliant prose or groundbreaking insights.

Here is what happens when you prioritise quantity over quality:


The constant pressure to rack up hours leads to exhaustion and disengagement. You become less likely to approach your work with the fresh perspective needed for good writing.

Diminishing Returns

The longer you slog away at a task, the lower your productivity becomes. Your focus wanes, and your creativity dries up.

Sacrificing Wellbeing

Dissertation writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Neglecting sleep, exercise, and social interaction to squeeze in more hours takes a toll on your physical and mental health, hindering your ability to perform at your best.

How To Find Your Dissertation Productivity Sweet Spot

So, how much time should you dedicate to your dissertation? The answer, like most things in life, is that it depends.

Here are some factors to consider when crafting your dissertation schedule:

  • Your Program’s Expectations: Different programs might have workload guidelines or deadlines that influence your time commitment. A PhD thesis is different from a Masters one
  • Your Stage of Research: The initial research phase might require longer stretches of time for data collection or literature review, while the writing stage might benefit from shorter, more focused sessions.
  • Your Working Style: Are you a morning person who thrives on early sessions, or do your creative juices flow best at night?
  • Your External Commitments: Do you have a job, family obligations, or other responsibilities that factor into your available time?

How To Craft A Dissertation Schedule For Success

Instead of a rigid hourly schedule,  focus on creating a flexible and sustainable dissertation writing plan. Here are some strategies:

Set SMART Goals

Instead of aiming for vague “work more hours,” set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals. This could be writing a certain number of pages per week, completing a specific research task, or revising a particular chapter by a deadline.

Power Of Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique involves working in focused 25-minute intervals, with short breaks in between. This approach keeps you focused and prevents burnout.

Schedule Breaks & Self-Care

Plan regular breaks throughout your workday to move your body, socialise, or simply clear your head. Prioritise adequate sleep, exercise, and healthy meals to maintain your stamina and mental clarity.

Track Your Progress

Use a time management tool or a simple log to track your work sessions and completed tasks. Seeing your progress can be motivating and help you adjust your schedule as needed.

Remember: The most important factor is not the number of hours you log, but the quality of the work you produce during those hours.

Hire an Expert Writer

Proposal and dissertation orders completed by our expert writers are

  • Formally drafted in academic style
  • Plagiarism free
  • 100% Confidential
  • Never Resold
  • Include unlimited free revisions
  • Completed to match exact client requirements

Additional Tips for Dissertation Success

  • Find Your Dissertation Tribe: Surround yourself with other dissertation writers who can offer support, motivation, and accountability.
  • Seek Guidance From Your Advisor: Schedule regular meetings with your advisor to discuss your progress, get feedback, and address any challenges you’re facing.
  • Utilise Writing Resources: Many universities offer writing workshops, tutoring services, or software tools specifically designed to aid dissertation writing.
  • Reward Yourself: Set aside time for activities you enjoy as a reward for completing milestones or achieving your daily goals.
  • Tame the Research Beast: Develop a system for organising your research materials. Use reference management software, create clear filing systems for physical documents, and keep detailed notes to avoid wasting time re-reading or searching for information.
  • Outline Like a Champion: A strong research outline serves as a roadmap for your dissertation, keeping you focused and ensuring all important points are addressed.
  • Embrace the Power of Freewriting: Freewriting is a stream-of-consciousness writing technique that allows you to explore ideas and overcome writer’s block. Don’t worry about grammar or formatting at this stage; just get your thoughts flowing. You can later refine and organise this raw material into coherent prose.
  • Learn to Love Revision: Revision is not a sign of failure; it’s an essential part of the writing process. Schedule regular revision sessions to polish your work, tighten your arguments, and ensure clarity and conciseness.
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Feedback: Seek feedback on your work from your advisor, committee members, or trusted colleagues. Constructive criticism can help you identify improvement areas and strengthen your dissertation.
  • Visualise Success: Take some time to envision yourself successfully defending your dissertation and achieving your academic goals. Keeping this end goal in mind can provide a powerful source of motivation.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Do not wait until the entire dissertation is finished to celebrate your accomplishments. Acknowledge and reward yourself for completing major tasks or reaching important deadlines.
  • Break Down the Big Picture: A large, looming dissertation can feel overwhelming. Break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks to maintain a sense of progress and avoid feeling discouraged.
  • Focus on the “Why”: Remind yourself of the reasons you embarked on this journey in the first place. What inspires you about your research topic? How will your dissertation contribute to your field? Reconnecting with your passion can rekindle your motivation.
  • Seek Inspiration: Read dissertations from your field or biographies of successful scholars. Surrounding yourself with accomplishment can be a powerful motivator.


Remember, the key to dissertation success is not endlessly grinding away at your work. It’s about working smart and efficiently. By focusing on quality,  implementing effective strategies, and prioritising your well-being, you can transform the dissertation writing process into a productive and, ultimately,  rewarding experience. 

So ditch the rigid hour count, embrace a flexible yet focused work style, and watch your dissertation take shape with confidence and clarity.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s no magic number of hours. Focus on quality work and a sustainable schedule. Aim for focused sessions with breaks, prioritise well-being, and don’t neglect sleep!

Estimating dissertation writing time is tricky. It depends on your writing speed, research needs, and focus. A rough estimate (assuming 40 words per minute typing speed with focused 50-minute sessions) is 300 hours, but prioritise quality over speed.

2 months might be tight for a high-quality dissertation. It depends on the length, research stage, and your writing speed. Focus on quality and realistic goals. Discuss feasibility with your advisor for a more accurate timeline.

A dissertation is a lengthy research project. 1 week is unrealistic for in-depth research, writing, and revisions. Focus on a well-paced plan and prioritise quality over speed. Discuss extensions with your advisor if needed.

Dissertation writing time varies greatly. Expect anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on the program, research needs, and individual writing pace. Focus on quality and a realistic timeline based on your specific situation.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.