Running On Empty

If you’ve nothing left when you sit down to get ready for the viva, then you’re not ready to get ready.

Take a break.

Submit, then stop.

Pause, then prep.

Relax and restore, then ready yourself. You can’t get ready for the viva if you have nothing more to give.

A few weeks or even a few days can be enough to recover from that final push to get your thesis finished and submitted. Viva preparation does not require fantastic efforts either, so if in day-to-day life, after work and other commitments you only have a little, then only give a little. You don’t need to ruin yourself to get ready.

Rest, restore and refuel first.

Rest And Think

When do you do your best thinking? How do you relax? How do you organise your thoughts?

I think with a bit of reflection everyone can better their process. If you reflect on the above questions, you can start to think about how you improve. For example, for me:

  • I do my best thinking when I’m walking along the seafront – so maybe I should do more of this…
  • I relax well at the moment playing video games – and that’s nice but a bit lonely, so maybe I need to play more board games…
  • I use a couple of notebooks, but they run out too quick – so maybe I need to re-examine my system…

You don’t have to get better at something just for the sake of it, but if you want to improve you have to start from somewhere. After all, there’s a lot of thought needed in the production of a thesis, in the preparation for the viva and on the day itself. And for PhDs that question about relaxing is most important. Time off is never time wasted. Remember to take a day off, even if you’re preparing for the viva.

Day Off

If you spend every day between submission and the viva doing some effective viva prep, then you’ll be in a great position for the viva. If you do nothing between submission and the viva, you probably won’t be in a great position for the viva.

Do some viva prep regularly on the lead up to the viva. But if, say, on a Bank Holiday, you take a day off? You’ll be fine. If there’s no bank holiday in the period leading up to your viva, still take a few days off. Well-placed breaks are just as important as the hard work you put in towards a goal.

[inspired by #takebreaksmakebreakthroughs which Dr Kay Guccione tweets about a lot!]