PMP preparation requires a dedicated time slot, if you are a busy person trying to fit in PMP in your existing schedule, you may end up messing up your personal or professional life.
Today, time management is the most complicated task; it requires really effective planning to divide your time and energy between work and the other important aspects of your life. Try one week following your plan religiously, with a week unplanned; you would found great difference regarding productive activities done or not done. Effective planning reduces the stress, and you can find sufficient time to prepare for your PMP Exam.
Plan and Re-Plan
Studying for the PMP certification requires a plan. The best way to prepare a plan for your studying is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Run through your study materials once or twice. Acquire a testing simulation application or find a simulation website in which to test your knowledge in a realistic way. Take the test and determine which questions you got wrong. For the questions you got wrong, determine the topic or knowledge area for the questions. Write those topics and knowledge areas on a list. These are your focus topics.
Rinse and repeat. Focus studying on the knowledge areas and topics where you were the weakest when taking the exam. When you think you have them fully understood, take the simulated exam again. Did you get questions related to those knowledge areas right? Then cross it off the list. Still didn’t answer those questions related to a knowledge area or topic correctly? Keep them on the list and determine why you are not able to answer the questions correctly.
Plan and re-plan your study topics and knowledge areas to focus on those areas where you don’t have a solid comprehension. Reading over topics and knowledge areas where you have a strong understanding is not a good use of your time. If you know it cold, you don’t need to keep reviewing it.
Most test simulation tools have a way only to take questions from a specific knowledge area. This can help you focus your studying. You can focus on each knowledge area one at a time and study until you are very comfortable with the test simulation questions and are getting them right.
Don’t shoot for 100% accuracy on test simulations. Get your score to around 80-90% correct for a knowledge area. Then move on to the next one.
Once you are getting 80 – 90 % accuracy on individual knowledge areas then run the ENTIRE test or take the test for ALL knowledge areas. At this point, keep track of the questions you answered incorrectly. Focus your studying and understanding why those questions were answered wrong. Keep a study list of topics.
Keep taking the entire full set of knowledge areas until you feel comfortable. You’re not going to get 100% of the questions right every time, but you should try to get to 90% correct as a goal.
Managing Daily Routine
Observe yourself for a week to determine the time you are spending for both personal and professional commitments.
- Start by making the list of household activities
- Prioritize the tasks in order of their importance
- Identify tasks which are important and can be out-sourced, for example; you can send the clothes for ironing, pay your maid extra for additional work only for short duration till your exam
- Remove three least important tasks, with a long-term backup plan
Find a Dedicated Study Space
It is equally important to identify a comfortable study area for yourself. You need a dedicated study space, with everything readily available. Try keeping your phone and internet out of reach during your PMP study.
Find the “happy place” where you can focus and concentrate on studying and learning. The kitchen table is a popular place to get things done, but you will most certainly be distracted by all your family members. If you don’t have a study space, then it is time to create one at home or at another location. Would the local library work? Are there study rooms at the local library that you could use? Can an area inside your home be set aside or blocked off for you to study? Could you use a conference room at work over lunch or after work?
You really need to work on your “happy place” area and try to figure out the distracting factors during your preparation. Eliminate the distractions as best you can.
Set Aside Dedicated Time
You may have to miss out some important family functions, some weekend parties, and few coffees with friends, but this is a small price for a larger goal. Keep people informed in advance about your commitment to minimize the diversions.
Schedule study time. Block time on your calendar for a set period every day. If you are unable to block a specific period every day, then schedule regular study sessions when your schedule allows. Scheduling the time ensures you will have the time set aside for studying. Communicate to your family and others that this time is needed for studying. Let them know you might not respond to them during these times so you can focus on studying.
Measure Your Daily Outcomes and Small Wins
Keep track of your simulated test results. Are you getting better or worse? What knowledge areas trip you up? Keep a focus list or study list that outlines the topics you are not answering correctly. Focus your study on that list.
If your results on the simulated exam go down repeatedly, then think about taking a break from studying to re-group your thoughts. Getting time to unwind and remove stress is important to helping you study effectively.
Celebrate your small successes. Sounds silly but it’s a good way to motivate yourself. Celebrating a small success can be anything from giving yourself a small chocolate bar. Celebrate by just having a movie night with your family and telling them the good news. Pick a celebration the works for you and go for it.
Find Your Ideal Pace
Most PMP aspirants start the preparation with the mindset that they can still cover the entire content in 2 weeks time, as they could do it in their student life. It is important to understand that both energy and caliber is much less now. So first analyze your actual ability in few days of your preparation. Then make a realistic study plan for yourself.
The key to success is creating a goal based approach for you and follow it very religiously come what may. In the case of unforeseen deviation in your plan, try to get back on track as soon as possible to maintain your plan.
Make sure that you keep some relaxing time for yourself every day, and try to enjoy your preparation by relating the topics with real world examples. A high-quality environment at home will boost your morale and speed up your preparation.