My youngest sister is nearly eight years my junior. It feels at times like we’re separated by generations. I’m sure she was the first person I heard use the words “ceebs” as a contraction of “can’t be bothered.”

It’s a good word. Said with the right tone it perfectly conveys the frustrated boredom of knowing what you need to do, but being unable to get going. You can make a plan, set short term goals, have a vision and still some days you’re just ceebs.

Maybe you’re like this with getting your thesis finished or preparing for the viva. Maybe it all seems too big. Maybe you can’t see the end yet. What then?

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of work by Tony Robbins lately. I like one of the solutions that he promotes for ceebs: just do something. Don’t try to think your way out of whatever funk you’re in. Sitting there, thinking about not being all ceebs isn’t going to do it. Get up and walk around, change your physical state. Start something. Write something. Pick up a paper and read it. Open to a chapter in your thesis and start making notes.

Totally ceebs with your thesis or viva prep? Get going.


When is the best time to start viva prep? I don’t know, at least not for you.

I don’t know how long your thesis is, whether or not you have a partner or kids, whether or not you have a job, whether or not you’re applying for jobs. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about your prep already, how often you have presented at conferences, how comfortable you feel about answering questions about your research.

So I don’t know when you need to start preparing.

However, I do have some thoughts that might help you:

  • Take at least two weeks off after submission before you read your thesis again. You can then approach it with a fresh perspective.
  • Give yourself at least two weeks to prepare. You will feel better if you can take your time a little and spread out the work.
  • Block out a rough period in your diary when you think you will be preparing for the viva. It helps to visualise a project.
  • Think about what you want to do and estimate how long it might take. Then add 20%.
  • Look at the time period you blocked out and the tasks you want to do. Explore how you will break that up.
  • Ensure you make some time to practise answering questions alongside all the writing and thinking prep.

And: don’t stress about preparation. Think a little about what you need, take steps toward getting it done.