First of all, you should start to think about something that you are interested in. Many people may search for a particular subject of interest and read previous research until a gap is found. It is better to look into some topic that you are interested in, as opposed to searching for a topic within fields that you have no knowledge about or no interest in, where there is no passion, and therefore no intention to work.
Most successful research and publications comes from researchers that were very passionate about the subject they work with, because there is always a factor that helps them move forward with their research. On the other hand, there are many failed research works, often due to researchers that were forced to proceed with topics they have found to be boring, complex, or just had no passion to work with.
Besides choosing a particular area of interest, it is necessary to be organized with your research. Creating a schedule is important, as it will enable you to use your limited time and make the best out of it. It is good practice to set at least one day of the week that is dedicated to your research, where you can focus only on working with research. This way, you will be able to get a good amount of work done each week.
A visual tool you can use is a white board, where you can list all of the tasks you must do – in order, and the deadline for each task. You can strike out every task that has been completed. This way, you will always be reminded of what you have to do, the progress you have made for each task, and what tasks are remaining. It is interesting to use this method, as it is always in front of you no matter what.
Always have your tasks planned in chunks. Associate each chunk with a certain time period. Try to complete each chunk within the time period that was assigned to it. This way you will be motivated to complete the research in parts, and not as a whole, which is much easier, as research includes many many elements to it that may be confusing if you look at everything at once.
It is always better to plan one year ahead of time, so that you will know what you have accomplished and what you haven’t each year during your research.
Be very strategic about the amount of time you dedicate to your research. If you have three years, for example, try to plan everything within those three years, and place each task at a time when you know you will be able to work on that task in the time you have for it. Use smaller periods of time for small tasks, such as proofreading your thesis, article, or journal paper for submission or publication.