Journaling Prep

Keep a tiny journal for your prep. Every time you do something, add it to a growing list of what you’ve done in pursuit of being ready.

Lots of viva prep tasks don’t have a visible output: when you have read your thesis or a paper you only have a memory. When you talk with a friend there’s nothing physical to point so you can say, “I did it.”

So keep a little journal. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than recording what you did, when you did it, why you did it and how it helped.

Build the proof for yourself that you are getting ready for your viva.

Numbers Matter

Since July 2010 I’ve delivered sessions about the viva to over 6000 postgraduate researchers. I have the 300th Viva Survivor session in my diary for early 2022. Shortly after that I’ll mark the five year anniversary of this daily blog.

I regularly remind myself of these numbers. I don’t write them to boost how I seem to you: I write them to help me see myself more clearly.

Like everyone I have doubts. I have anxieties. They come and go and can sometimes bring me down.

The numbers don’t lie though. The numbers help to tell my story back to me. I have done this work for a long time, I’ve worked with a lot of people, I’ve stayed determined with the blog. The numbers help me to show me the results of what I’ve done. They steer me towards my confidence and away from doubts.

What are your numbers? What measures could help you?

The number of days you worked on your PhD so far? The number of times you’ve shared your work? The number of chapters in your thesis or interesting things you found? The number of challenging situations you overcame?

You might have a bad day or a bad week near the end of your PhD. It may be you doubt yourself as you get closer to the viva. In those times look for your numbers. Your feelings might say one thing, but the numbers will tell you a far more helpful story.

Every Day Is A Restart

Not just the 1st of January. Not the 2nd, once you finish celebrating New Year’s Day!

Every day is a chance to look at what you do, how you do it, why you do it and think, “What else…?”

What else can you do to help build your talent?

What else can you do to steer your confidence?

What else will you need to be ready for your viva?

What else can you achieve in this new year?