Small Projects

This post on small projects has been in my mind for several years. It’s worth a read! I like the idea that it can be both more productive and more effective to work on creating small things rather than undertaking massive endeavours. For example, I see Viva Survivors as a series of small projects under one umbrella, rather than one big behemoth.

I’ve been casting my mind around for a while on other small projects for the site, and at the time of writing have the following in my to-do queue:

  • Add tags and keywords to every post from the daily blog.
  • Curate a few lists of posts on similar themes.
  • Produce pages for each of the books that I have available (rather than only a single hub page).
  • Produce a new season of the podcast, approx 8 episodes that become available at the same time, like an album!
  • Create a few more Pocketmod tiny books, and several more minicast episodes.

Small projects are manageable. Even if you don’t have time to work on something immediately, you can see most of the parts and see where the challenges are. It’s the opposite of most research projects, where often you can’t appreciate everything until you’re already in it.

Viva prep can be a series of small projects, and none of them have to be over-taxing to complete. Reading your thesis and marking it up in a useful way is a small project. Creating summaries to draw out your thoughts is a couple of small projects. A mock viva or presentation to give you opportunity to think and talk is a small project. It all helps.

For your thesis, you had to think big. Maybe for your viva prep it’s useful to think small.


Every now and then I look at the stats for the blog to see which of my posts have helped or resonated. Here are the ten most read posts from 2017:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. 9 Questions For The End Of The PhD
  3. Hierarchy of Worries
  4. Six Whys
  5. Who’s In The Room?
  6. Your Greatest Hits
  7. Cheatsheet
  8. Who’s Who
  9. Six More Whys
  10. The Perfect Thesis

There’s a mix of practical advice about preparation, reflections to get a candidate thinking and also discussion about examiners and worry. I’ve written on these themes a lot more on the blog, so you don’t have to look far beyond these posts to find something useful.

It’s also interesting because it gives me a perspective on what people find helpful and worth sharing. I’m really grateful whenever I see that someone has posted a link to one of my posts. The fact that these are the most read will help me to think about how I can do more to help people feel ready.

There’s lots of help on this blog, but there’s also lots of viva help elsewhere. Figure out what you need to feel ready and go looking.

Future Resources

I have an ever-growing list of ideas, potential projects and things to make to help people be ready for their viva. If you look around this site you’ll see lots of resources already:

  • over sixty episodes of the podcast in the archive;
  • a curated list of useful links from all over the place;
  • original free resources like The tiny book of viva prep and my first Viva Minicast;
  • pages with my ebooks and print guides;
  • and, to date, almost 250 daily viva posts!

I get stuck thinking about which future projects and resources to prioritise. Which should I do first? Are there any I shouldn’t bother with at all? What kind of resources will help? What would make the biggest difference?

Rather than try to figure it all out for myself, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have ideas for the kinds of resources that could help, then please, tell me! What you do you want? What do you think would help? Where are there gaps in terms of helpful resources about the viva?

Please email or tweet at me if you’ve any ideas!

Often the first step to finding a solution is really figuring out what you need. So… What do you need?


I’m happy to be doing this daily blog, to have the podcast archive to share, a starting selection of original free resources and also some paid ebooks to offer. But I’m not the only person who tries to help people prepare for the viva. Look around you. Your university might have some great resources that it can offer; they could have a series of videos to help, posts and articles about viva experiences or resources that they’ve bought in – great things like Viva Cards or The Good Viva Video.

If you see something useful, share it. If you need something, ask people. If something doesn’t exist, make it.

I’m going to keep writing, making and helping.