I’m a big fan of SMART, the acronym of criteria for effective goal-setting. There are various definitions; my personal flavour of SMART is Specific, Measurable, Advantages, Realistic, Time-bound. I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I’ve banged my head against a wall with a project, then realised it was because I wasn’t really defining what I was trying to do. SMART always brings me back on track.
Want to set a good plan in motion for your viva prep? Use SMART and the following questions to help frame your prep plans:
- Specific: what exactly are you going to do? “Read my thesis” isn’t specific; read Chapters 2 and 3 is specific.
- Measurable: how will you know when you’re done? It’s easy to keep going and going. What tells you to stop?
- Advantages: why are you doing this? (hopefully easy in the context of viva prep!)
- Realistic: is it do-able given your time and resources? It’s important not to try to squeeze too much in to a limited schedule.
- Time-bound: how much time are you aiming to give to a task? And what will you do afterwards?
Being SMART will remove some of the challenges. You’ll still have to do the work, but you’re used to that by now. Plan your success.