1345 Days

That’s how long my PhD was, from the day I started to the day I had my viva. 1345 days is just over three and a half years. That’s a long time! I didn’t work every day. I took holidays, I had breaks, but still a large part of those 1345 days involved going to the office and working.

And thinking about my work on the train.

And in the gym.

In the shower.

While eating my breakfast, or watching TV.

1345 days might be longer than your PhD; it could be shorter in some cases.

But no-one gets to the viva without putting the hours in. No-one finishes a good thesis without working for it.

A thousand and more days really prepares you for the hundred or so minutes you defend your thesis.

A Local Maximum

A term from maths: sometimes a peak in a graph is not the topmost point, but just the highest one for now. A downward slope afterwards might not run down forever. The curve may rise again, higher, further and faster.

Your PhD is a local maximum. Not the biggest and best thing ever. It might be the best thing so far, and it is important, but it has to be put into perspective.

The best is yet to come.

Six Thousand Hours…

…is my ballpark, back-of-the-napkin calculation for how much time someone might spend working on a PhD.

Compare that to two to three hours in the viva.

Three orders of magnitude difference and then some.

If you’re nervous about the viva: you’ve taken no shortcuts to get here. In and among those thousands of hours are lots of reasons why you’re up to the challenge ahead.


You could spend your final year of your PhD counting down the days: Another day gone until I have to submit, another day gone until my viva…

I knew PhD candidates who stressed and obsessed that time was running out. It’s easy to see with hindsight and perspective that stress didn’t do much to help them. Of course, if you are stressed, it’s not enough to say “don’t do that,” it’s not something that you can just turn off.

Perhaps you can try to steer things a little though. You can wake up each day and say, “What am I going to do today that will help me? What can I can do that will get me one step closer to finishing my PhD?”

Then you can mark that day off with a different thought: Another day closer to done, another day closer to complete

It’s a little change. But little changes add over time.

What are you going to do today?