To advance in our career we constantly look out for continued education opportunities. As much as it is a matter of our interest, in many cases it is mandatory element of our jobs. The very fact that you are preparing for the project management certification exam indicates that you are on the right path!
One of the issues I always faced, let me admit, is the need for motivation to keep studying. To stay on the path. We all start well, then as routine sets in, some of us lose motivation. It is natural.
Some of us are single, some are recently married and some are married with kid(s). No matter which stage you are at in your life, there are responsibilities, needs and wants to be fulfilled. These pull us in different directions. Between the deadlines to meet and targets to achieve at work, and the need to spend time with our family and friends, we find very less time and motivation available to study.
I would like to share few ways I use to deal with this. Hopefully you will find them useful, and share one or two things you do to keep yourselves motivated.
Enjoy the subject
It is well-known that we enjoy doing what we like to do. And we like to do things that we find interesting. The interest in what we do keeps our mind focused. A focused mind absorbs information easily and retains it in our long term memory.
How do we make the study subject interesting?
That is a million dollar question. But come to think of it, every subject has some ‘juice’ in it. I remember disliking some of my Engineering subjects, like Fluid Mechanics and Turbine Engineering (my apologies, if you love these subjects 🙂 )
Then I discovered that I liked some of minor aspects of these subjects. For one, I liked drawing figures and we had to draw pictorial representation of concepts. I also liked applying formulae and finding answers (I had trouble remembering formulae, but that is a different topic 🙂 ). Once I identified these smaller elements of the subject that I liked – I felt good! Once I applied these elements and did something concrete (draw the steam turbine and identify parts, or solve few examples using formulae) – I felt better! Soon I could negotiate not-so-interesting aspects of the subject and study them.
So, the trick is to find those small elements of the subject that you like.
Sandwich uninteresting parts of study between interesting parts
Doing the interesting part gives us a good start (“well begin is half done”), and the nag you feel while doing uninteresting part will be eased when you know that you will be doing the part you like after this.
I had to update some project documents (low level design, process documents) but I liked programming better. So I first spent an hour doing the programming and coded the logic of the module in place. Jumped on to the documentation part, finished it and sent for review. Then jumped back to complete the programming, test it out, optimized, tested it out again and submitted to QA team.
This works to get things done, as well as to study a subject. Have you noticed Ayurvedic doctors administering medicine on kids give honey first then the bitter medicine, then hone y again? Works like magic.
Correlate what you study to something in real world
Relating the study concepts with something in real world makes the subject interesting as well as easy to recall. The fun is when the correlated stuff is silly or weird. Mind remembers silly, weird, out-of-proportion things better than run-of-the-mill stuff.
But then the project management subject is pretty easy to apply to real world, our own, scenarios. Recently I had to do the interiors of my apartment. And this helped me correlate PMP knowledge areas and processes beautifully. I had to,
- Initiate the work (identifying the carpenter, finalizing designs,..)
- Plan the work (deciding materials, high level costing, stay and food for carpenters during work is underway,..)
- Execute the work (procuring required materials on time, making sure workers got what they wanted when they wanted,..)
- Monitor and Control the work (identifying dependencies, making sure workers are doing stuff as per my designs, ensuring that material is used optimally and not wasted,..)
- Close the work (ensure everything had the final finishing, making payments, filing warranty documents, clearing off remaining material,..)
And just doing these mentally, and then physically helped me concretize many of the PMP® concepts.
Well, these are some of the ways that help me stay motivated on study track. These may work for you, maybe not. Hopefully some of them will.
What is that one thing you do that motivates you use to stay focused on exam preparation?