When I was a kid I used to love all-you-can-eat buffets. Some of this, some of that, pile the plate high and devour! And repeat! And repeat!

And then regret

Sore stomach, parched throat, and a fuzzy head from too much of everything.

As an adult, my preferences have changed. Far better to have things you really want, rather than consume everything because it’s there.

I think it’s similar in a way with viva prep.

Most candidates will have between six to twelve weeks after submission. There’s lots you could do. You could read your thesis a few times, make lots of notes, have lots of conversations with people, a mock viva or two, read all of your references, check to see if there’s any new good ones and just keep doing more and more work. There will always be more you could do, and there’s a big gap of time (leaving aside how busy you probably are) to prepare in.

But all that focus will probably leave you with a fuzzy head from too much of everything.

Far better to act with intention. Decide in advance what outcomes you’ll need to satisfy to consider yourself prepared. You really can’t do everything. You don’t need to use every hour of every day to get ready.

So what do you need to do? Who do you need to help you? When will you get it done?

Don’t treat prep as open-ended task. A little thought and a little plan will go a long way to helping you get the work done.