As an IAE student, you are bound to encounter writer’s block as you trudge through the academic year writing 9 PMAs and a dissertation. It’s that moment when your mind goes blank, your train of thought comes to a complete halt and you have absolutely no idea how to proceed with your work.
This can happen rather often and it’s the reason why many of us end up staring at the computer for hours without getting much work done. Here is a compilation of tips and tricks you can use to combat writer’s block and regain your productivity.
#1: Write one paragraph a day
I found this tip particularly useful when I needed to submit a draft of my dissertation in the midst of back-to-back modules and PMA deadlines. I chose this goal of writing one paragraph a day as it was easy to accomplish, and it made sure that I was always making incremental progress with my dissertation.
While a paragraph may not be much, getting a paragraph written does kickstart your train of thought, and more often than not you’ll end up writing more than just one paragraph. Even if you only end up writing one paragraph a day, you will still end up with over 2 pages of material to expand on after just a week of writing! This is certainly better than not making any progress at all.
Achieving multiple small victories goes a long way in giving you the motivation and confidence to make incremental progress in whatever you do.
#2: Put your thoughts into bullet points
On some days, you can have many ideas, opinions and thoughts about your PMA or dissertation. While you are completely inspired to write, sometimes you may struggle with putting your jumbled-up thoughts into words.
Trying to consolidate your thoughts and phrasing them in complete, structured sentences is probably one of the most difficult things about writing in general. It’s also natural to also want them to be perfect once we’ve written them down, but sometimes our brain doesn’t want to cooperate that way.
In such scenarios, I’ve always resorted to putting all my truncated thoughts into bullet points. While they don’t have to make much sense initially, these little ‘eureka!’ moments do form the foundation for some really great content and should be captured nonetheless. These thoughts will slowly start to make sense when you revisit them at a later stage, and then you can take the time to pick your thoughts apart and slowly work your way through.
At the end of the day, it is crucial to commit to write something on a regular basis. It does not have to be a lot – any progress is always better than none.
Safwat Kerish, MSc Sustainable Automotive Engineering
Lots are going on, supervisor meetings, tasks to do, PMAs, and keeping up with all the other activities. By this time, I have got into the pace of the degree and I've started filling in my free time through effective time management. On another part, Warwick volunteering had an advertisement for student mentoring program at the beginning of the year, which I joined to assist maths teachers in classes and help students through understanding mathematical topics and solving problems.
Warwick Skills Portfolio Award
Warwick Skills Portfolio Award (WSPA), is an award given to students who get involved in three out of more than twenty specific activities in recognition of their development and skills attained. Once an activity is done, a reflection is needed to be written by the student and reviewed by the mentor (all done online). A second reflection and final one should be submitted to proceed with the award. Once all three reflections are written for the three activities, the award is given during a celebration event. I have finished all three activities and I am writing up reflections for the last two. The award will be a great addition to my CV along with all the skills attained.
The WMG has an online system for various skills workshops, social, sports and other events. I was interested in attaining personal development skills that will aid my CV and applications for graduate jobs. I first went for a “Personal Branding” workshop that focuses on individual skills, knowing who you are and building up a personal image, both online and on-ground which will aid when applying for graduate jobs and also for a future career. In line with that, I attended “LinkedIn” workshop, where we learnt how to use the website effectively and in our favour, took some tips and hints to assist us in standing out from others when applying for jobs through the website.
I try to get out of Canley after a whole week of the module to recharge. One weekend I decided to go to Coventry, another weekend I went to Birmingham. I went to try out restaurants and look at the city views. I visited Coventry university which is 8 minutes away from the main bus station (Pool Meadow), I ended up going library there and working for a bit, which is cool because as a student you are allowed to go to any library across the UK. Overall, I try my best whether I am writing up my PMA, researching my project and training. It is hard to keep a steady mood and workload, this is why the days after finishing modules and weekends are great opportunity to relax for a bit (not long), plan, recharge and get ready for work.
Alissa Lola Bouab, MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship
HELLO dissertation, thesis, project, research… whatever you call it! Now that we are well into the New Year, 2019 feels real and the master’s dissertation too. This year is going to be extra special as I will write a substantial piece of work which will be useful for my future professional career, but also for my personal development. So today I thought I would share a bit more information on the WMG master’s project and the steps I go through in order to actually make it happen and not be (too) overwhelmed.
The WMG master’s project counts for 50% of your overall mark, making it the most ‘important’ piece of work you write throughout the year. The other 50% are the PMAs written after module weeks (9 in total). As my course is Innovation & Entrepreneurship, my dissertation can be about any new business opportunity. Indeed, it could be on anything you might like to launch, which makes it so useful for your future career, as all the research and work for this new venture is already done. Business models, cashflow forecasts, market research, marketing strategies, funding strategies, consumer behaviours are all topics which can be covered in your master’s thesis, making it invaluable information for the future. To help you write it, you have to select a supervisor who is happy to be working with you on a specific topic. The supervisor is so helpful as they keep you on track with your work, give feedback throughout the process and explain to you how the different chapters have to be written. But don’t worry, there are also plenty of workshops for each chapter in order to fully understand what is expected of you. Finally, the piece of information that everyone wants to know: the dissertation’s word count guideline is 20,000 words (as of March 2019). This is only a broad guideline, and dissertations vary greatly in size.
So now that the project is a bit clearer, here are my top tips to keep on track and tackle this important piece of work.
Step one: Plan ahead and adjust accordingly
The tip everyone tells you about and for good reason… Planning ahead is the most important step when it comes to tackling a big and lengthy piece of work. Breaking down all the chapters into smaller tasks and planning your time around them. Sticking to the plan is preferable but sometimes life gets in the way, and in this case, it is essential to modify the plan so you can stick to it again! This month I went to Spain and had to modify my schedule as I knew I just wasn’t going to write my thesis when it was sunny, 27 degrees outside and an ice cream was waiting for me. Adiós dissertation!
Step two: Learn from the past
Did you already write a big assignment similar to the master’s thesis? It could be a bachelor’s dissertation for instance. Then why not take note of what you did well and not so well in order to plan even better this time around? I struggled with time management last year during my bachelor’s dissertation (I mean who didn’t?), so I am really careful about my time schedule this year and making sure to stick to it.
Step three: Be realistic and plan breaks
We live super busy lives and like to be involved in all kind of projects. Our never-ending to-do lists don’t help us in finishing all the tasks we set out to do in a day. So be realistic with how much time writing the dissertation takes (hint: it takes a lot of time but that’s okay as it is something you probably are passionate about!). Another thing is to plan breaks often and regularly, during the day but also throughout the weeks and months, with travelling for instance or anything that makes you tick. A little escape from everyday life in order to recharge.
Step four: Work with your supervisor
The supervisor is a mine of knowledge and guidance: use it! They give you insightful feedback which makes your work better and help you keep on track. My supervisor has been great at helping me plan my workload, giving me feedback and suggesting ways to improve my work.
Step five: Just do it
My favourite tip of all: just get it done. Just start writing, researching, working on the project. Don’t let perfectionism stop you from doing it, just do it, get feedback and adjust accordingly. And before you know it, the dissertation will be done!
¡Hola! Taking a well-needed break from dissertation writing in Spain!
David Suarez Cuellar, MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship
One of the most exciting benefits of studying for WMG is the opportunity to visit real-world business in the UK while studying. Recently, I joined the visit to Birmingham Airport along with other fellow WMG Master students. It was very exciting and I have always loved planes, so I was very eager to see how they manage the large number of people travelling through the airport each day.
Most industrial visits start at 9.00am and finished by 1pm, they are booked via the WMG event booking system that all WMG master students have access to and this. The coach arrived on campus at 9:10 to take us to the airport and we arrived there shortly afterwards, as it is only around 20 minutes by road from the university.
The visit began with a presentation about the airport’s history and its relevance for the UK, where we discovered that it is the 7th largest airport in the UK with around 12 million passengers travelling through it per year.
After some explanations of how the airport works, we headed for the most exciting part: we visited the terminal. There, we were told that this particular airport was the first hub-and-spoke purpose designed terminal in the world during the 1980s. This is how most large airlines in the world such as British Airways, Emirates, etc. work nowadays, so it was the first airport in the world that was designed to work internally as most modern airports work. Surprisingly, this was not the only innovation ever introduced in Birmingham Airport. The rail link from the railway station happened to be the first Maglev train system ever built in the world, just like the one found in Shanghai, but slightly shorter. Sadly, as it happens with many innovations, it had to be replaced in 1995, so now the rail link works in a different technology.
As you can see, it was a lot of fun going on an industrial visit with WMG. Certainly, it won't be my last industrial visit. I highly recommend everyone at WMG to join one, it gets you closer to the industry you might want to work in the future.
Constanza Miranda, MSc e-Business Management
As soon as the academic year started, I decided to participate in one of the sports societies. I absolutely love to play sports and I wanted to represent the University at competition level. I have played volleyball for 8 years now, so I had no doubts about going to the trials in the first week of term. I got through the trials and was placed in the second team, and that is how I started to represent Warwick in the University league.
These past several months playing volleyball have been very challenging for me. One of the main reasons for this is because my first language is Spanish and the technical words, related with this sport, were new to me. So, I basically had to learn everything again. I was also part of a new, multicultural team, with different rules and other ways of playing the game. Moreover, I am the oldest one in the team, because all the other girls are undergraduates. This made me adapt the role of the “mother” of the team, and I try to teach them all I know. This experience has really helped me to realise how much I love to teach people what I know.
We train once a week and we usually have one or two matches per week. We also have a team coach and a student society which organises a lot of extra activities, like POP, dinners, treks, and other charity events. It impressed me how organised the society are. These extra-curricular activities have helped me to understand a lot more about my teammates, who are from a range of countries around the world. It has really been an incredible experience, which has opened my mind.
As for the matches themselves, the girls told me that they lost all of their games last year and they did not feel confident when the year started. I noticed their insecurity immediately and lack of experience playing formal matches. I still remember when we won the first match and some of the team cried with the emotion of it, because they simply could not believe it. Over the months, and with a lot of training, the team has improved enormously. Volleyball is a sport where you need 100% collaboration between the six players on court and the trust we have built among us is incredible. Now I am proud to say that we are first in our group!
I am so happy that I decided to join the volleyball team and to be part of this beautiful group of people - it has really enhanced my student experience, and it provides a welcome break and downtime from studying.
Edna Simbine Matsinhe, MSc Supply Chain and Logistics Management
All the modules I have had so far have always a practical component, which means that we have the opportunity to apply everything we have learned using information systems or models and frameworks that are used by professionals in the area to overcome current challenges.
Specifically speaking the 'Transport Techniques and Management' module we use from software, manual calculations as well as games to overcome challenges that transport companies face. I will now give as an example the planning system that we use during module to manage the transport fleet and also a game called business on the move transport game.
Transport planning and routing software
It is less complex to plan the resources and transportation route to be used when it comes to transporting a single product type to a single point of destination, but nowadays companies face much more complex issues. In an unpredictable world in which things are in constant change, it is more complex for transport companies to plan their resources as well as decide on the route, as they have to respond to the transport of different types of products with different destination, either within the same country or to another country. The plan has to be done in a way that responds to customers' requirements. So, we had the opportunity to use a software that firstly it optimized the planning time and secondly, we could change the data in order to find the most cost-efficient way to do the transport. By using the software, we practice how to plan the transport route, from considering resources such as number of drivers required, to even decide on the most convenient area to locate a warehouse. It was wonderful to see a job that would take hours or even days to be done, being done in minutes.
Business on the move transport game
The business on the move transport game is a board game that create awareness on players on how a business transport company is managed. By playing this game we had to make decisions on how to transport the goods from one country to another from the time an order is received. It was fun to play the game but also very challenging as we actually had to make decision as normal transport business. Among the decisions were the mode of transport to be used, the decision to collaborate or not with other transport company, pay or not insurance and other contemporary decisions among transport division. It was a really fun way to learn.
I hope you enjoy this module as much as I did :) Check out my photos below.
Nurbek Abdollayev, MSc Engineering Business Management
I would like to share my experience of studying at Warwick University. The start of the academic year was very intensive, yet very productive! New people, new culture and new beginnings!
The academic life at Warwick University impressed me, not only by its “state-of-the-art” technology labs or workshops but also with its people: I mean tutors, supervisors, staff, and students also. Everybody is involved in academic life, and there is always support provided either from the course leaders or well-being team.
The first module or subject that I had was Operations Strategy in Industry or OPSI, for short! And, believe me, within two weeks we studied lots of meaningful things: I learned and applied different models and strategy frameworks, which I hadn’t heard or used before, but I highly admit that they are very important to business and I wish I could have used them before in my work. In addition, learning through case studies gave us deeper insight into the best practices and failures, which should be considered during new strategy implementation into the organization.
There are also visiting lectures from industries(eg. Jaguar Land Rover and other leading companies), who come to share their knowledge with students - adding value to the subject content. Thus, the learning process becomes more interesting, as it provides a combination of the best theories from books and practices from industries.
I would like to express gratitude to the OPSI tutor, Adrian Watt, who delivered this module - it definitely met my expectations!
|Photos taken during the OPSI module|
Alissa Lola Bouab, MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Looking back at 2018, many things happened. Of course there were ups and downs, but overall we can all be proud of personal achievements, big or small; noticeable to others or not.
Personally, 2018 was the year I finally finished my bachelors degree; did a big trip that involved camping in the wilderness in Canada; attended summer school in Denmark (because why not study a bit more?) and got accepted to study at WMG for a masters of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a scholarship!
Looking back, it was also a tough year as I studied more than ever and had to push aside personal projects.
Here is the thing with studying, you have to enjoy it! But you also have to balance it out with personal projects so that your life is as fun and exciting as it can be. Be it a part-time job, a travelling addiction, or even a hobby; I learnt this year that it is important to work on different things at the same time. And studying a masters degree can be combined with those personal projects as most work is done remotely, in the comfort of your own home, whilst travelling or at the times that suit you best. Admittedly, this style of working requires a lot of self-discipline, but once you get the hang of it, you are able to do so much more by working on your personal development and your studies simultaneously. This is something that is often not possible whilst working full-time so I intend to make the most of it during the rest of my studies in 2019 by balancing my studies with more personal projects such as learning a new language, going travelling whilst studying and working part-time. These activities will bring a new dimension to my year of studying, giving me the ability to gain new experiences. I was actually writing this post whilst travelling through France, balancing a hobby of mine and my studies through the ability to work remotely.
What about you, what did you learn in 2018? And what do you intend to put in place in 2019 to make it an even better year?
Happy New Year, everyone. Take time to reflect and try new things in the new year!