The VCDX defense preparation phase includes both slide deck creation and common tasks such as skill updates, potential question creation, alternatives, deep dives, skill transfers, mock defenses and study group meetings.
When is it best to start? Depending on your mental state at the time of design document submission, right away. I took 7 days off until I started creating my presentation and working on all the other items.
Never mind if you don’t know if the design was accepted. Just start. Worse case scenario is that you spent some hours on a presentation that you will use the next time you submit the design.
It will get really hard if you know 3 weeks before the defense that you are going to defend and the presentation is still a New button in PowerPoint.
As for which item to address first I focused on the presentation first and got a good template and the layout just right while getting feedback from my mentor and the study group.
Then I addressed my weakest skills, added to my presentation and did further study group sessions, including design mocks and troubleshooting/design scenarios.
As for a specific timeline of each item, I actually went and did the thing my brain allowed me to do. Some nights I just couldn’t do a single slide in the deck. Then I logged into Pluralsight and just watched some network videos. It was all about change of pace (and learning method; Read-Interact-Listen-Watch).
The time I spent for my defense preparation were about 216-260 hours. Why the gap? Cause I only noted 216 hours and those number did not include all the time I spent going over Quizlet and reading books.
Here is a graph of the time spent on preparations:
And here is a graph of the time spent each day on preparations:
Why did I use time to account for the time I spent on the project? Cause I could. And I’m a data junkie. I just really love looking at graphs with lots of connected piece of information. Don’t judge. 🙂
This time did not include the time I spent each day learning my Quizlet cards (during transit to and from work and also whenever I could) and reading various books for skill update. That would add about 40 hours to the total number.
At the start of the journey I scheduled how much time I would spend on the project. The following graph shows the difference between these two:
I planned for 270 hours, but was only about 20 hours short if the off-screen hours were taken into account.
So do start as soon as you can preparing because every hour you can put in will help in the defense itself.