Last Friday night I received an email from one of my students to say he was busy studying in preparation for his E3 exam and wanted some advice on how to tackle a few question within the question bank. I still remember those days of studying into the evening, whilst most of my friends and colleagues had finished work ready to relax over the weekend.
I came across this article on the CGMA website, which contained advice on how students can balance their time and priorities in preparation for an exam. I thought it would be worth sharing with you.
You can access the original link here.
How to Manage your Time and Priorities
Do you feel like there’s just never enough time to study?
Do you feel overwhelmed by all your commitments and wonder how you’ll ever fit them all in?
Sometimes we don’t even know where to begin.
I know from personal experience that it can be very stressful when you’re trying to manage your time between a busy job, family commitments and the need to study.
But it’s okay. This is not a permanent situation if we learn to take control.
The first step is to recognise that we are in charge of our time and daily activities. So when we say we don’t have time to study, what we are really saying is “I choose not to study for my exams right now because other things are more important to me.”
We all have time to do what is most important to us. It’s just a question of what those priorities are.
To help you with this, here are my top tips for managing both your time and priorities:
1. Determine what’s most important in your life. What gives you energy and drive each day? What are those activities that you WANT to be doing rather than those you feel you HAVE to be doing? You can also be strategic here, what is the best use of your time in terms of making money in the long run?
2. Keep a file of your motivating factors from above. Refer back to them whenever you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or want to quit. Remind yourself why you are doing things in the first place.
3. Control the inputs into your life. By this I mean removing distractions when you want to get down to work – just because someone requests your time, it doesn’t mean you have to give an immediate response. Email in particular can be addictive, try to use this less and less. Check your inbox and social media last thing in the day when you’re ready to switch off. Teach others to value your time by saying to your family and friends that you are un-contactable during your study time.
4. Schedule your day and routine. Use a calendar to get things out of your head and onto a schedule. Map out each task you have to do, set a time limit and give yourself deadlines to achieve them by. Choose your 2 most important tasks for the day and do them first. As you go along, you’ll get a better insight into how long things take and you’ll actually find you free up more time.
5. Have a strategy meeting with yourself each week. Look back at the tasks you’ve been working on in the previous week – write down what went well and what’s stressing you out right now. Can you do more of what’s working well? What action can you take to alleviate the stress so that it doesn’t carry on into the following week? Set some goals for the next week – what are the priorities? What are you going to do and when? You want to start each new week knowing exactly what needs to be done.
It’s important not to beat yourself up. Time management is hard and it is not something you are expected to master overnight. You’ll find that you get much better at prioritising and managing your time with experience.
But if you want to speed the process up and make your life a whole lot easier right now, try seeking help from a mentor who has been on the path you are following and can guide you step by step along the way.
Matt Evans is a CIMA qualified management accountant who now offers expert guidance on becoming a fully qualified CIMA member, check out his website http://www.managementaccountingmastery.com/