The Buffer

I publish a blog post about the viva every day. To be sure that I meet that promise I write and polish posts far in advance. I like to make sure that I have several weeks completed at any time, acting as a sort of buffer, just in case something happens.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been very happy to have that buffer: on September 21st I tested positive for COVID for the first time. My case was mild, only two days of really feeling ill, then a long time of feeling drained after that. I was really glad to have my buffer of finished posts to give myself time off to recover. I didn’t worry that I was falling short of my goals.

As I write this though I have only a few days left and so really do have to get writing again!


Buffers are helpful in lots of ways and have lots of names. It could be a savings fund for emergencies, a pile of good books waiting to be read or a freezer full of home-cooked meals.

Practice and experience can be a kind of buffer too, building you up to be ready for future challenges. Early in my post-PhD life, a friend shared with me the value of regular practice: “Nathan, it gives you talent to burn.”

By the time you get to your viva you have invested a lot in your talent. You have a dragon’s hoard of knowledge, skill, ability and more. You don’t need to be concerned that you will fall short at the viva. You have a lot in your buffer – from years of experience – that you can bring to those few hours.