Approach prep the same way you would your health. Small investments made now will pay large dividends later.
I can’t overemphasize the importance of squeezing as much as you can from every minute during prep!
Over my career I’ve had periods of up to six months (and as little as three weeks) to get my production affairs in order. But it’s not so much the length of time that matters as what you do with it. It’s essential to prioritize before executing. Tackle the most important challenges first, then address the rest in descending order. Stay light on your feet and be open to change so you can adapt quickly as things evolve.
And always remember that your primary job is to get inside the director’s mind so as to render their vision in an appropriate physical reality. Spend as much time as possible with that person. Toss around ideas. Share external references. Develop a close rapport. Communicate! Learn to see things through your director’s eyes, then bring something of your own to their concepts. Some directors will be visually strong, others less so; be ready to step up as the situation dictates. Above all, be an improver!
Certainly, you’ll be inundated with human, artistic, budgetary, technical and mechanical issues during prep. Other mundane concerns will also abound. But keeping these points in mind will help you to stay on track and give you a better chance of doing your best work when the bell finally rings!