Busy Times

Even before coronavirus, PhD candidates would ask me about what they should do to prepare for their vivas because they were busy.

  • “I have a full time job as well, what should I do?”
  • “I get home late, what should I prioritise?”
  • “How much time do I really need to spend?”

I shared a post a few months ago about the kinds of work to prioritise (here), but time is a hard thing to give an easy answer to. It really depends on circumstances.

Twenty to thirty hours of work at most would be enough. It can be spread out over weeks with a little planning. If you have a full time job or you get home late or you’re just stretched at the moment, it may feel really hard to find an hour in a week – nevermind an hour a day or even thirty minutes of peace.

But that’s what you need: peace, calm, quiet. An hour to breathe and read and think. Thirty minutes to add a few Post-its or make some notes.

If you’re busy you still have to find time to get the prep work you need to do done. I can’t help with finding time, but while you do have prepare for your viva – even if you’re busy – you have a greater duty to be kind to yourself. If you are exhausted, take a break. If you just cannot make time for a task, then rest. Effective viva prep doesn’t happen under pressure.