At the end of last year, I completed a CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing – my final exam was in December. I did this through weekend classes while working full time and running this blog, which was quite the balancing act! Now that I’ve survived this ordeal, I thought I’d put together my top tips for fitting extra study around other commitments.
1. Commit to it. If you’ve been thinking about doing that course or this certificate for ages but never really looked into it, now is the time! Do you research – how long will it take? how much will it cost? will your company support you? is it the right choice or is there something more relevant you could take on? Extra study is a huge commitment – financially, emotionally and in terms of your time and attention. You need to believe that it’s absolutely the right choice for you, otherwise you may find your commitment waning when times get tough.
Make sure you plan to start at a time that works for you but, equally, don’t keep putting it off! Getting back into study can be quite daunting but you’ve got to feel the fear and do it anyway.
2. Block out your time. When I first started the course, I thought to myself “I’ll fit some study in here and there, perhaps on some weekdays after work”. I got about a month in and had done no extra study whatsoever – where does the time go?! Well, unless you block time out in your diary, it goes on doing more appealing things like socialising…or sleeping. I recommend that you put realistic study slots in your diary – your work diary as well as your personal diary so that if you need to leave work on time to get home and study, you won’t end up with out of hours meetings ruining your plans. It might feel great at the time to put in three hours of work every day after work, but if it’s not realistic you’ll just end up beating yourself up over missing it. Depending on what you’re studying, two-three short after work sessions a week plus a nice long Sunday session (because nothing happens on a Sunday anyway) should see you through and mean you still have time for other things you enjoy.
3. Shout about it. Once you’ve decided on your path of study, let people know! One of your Facebook friends might have already studied the course and be able to lend you books. A friend of a friend may have just signed up for the same thing – you’ve got yourself a study buddy. And people at work may be forthcoming with useful information you didn’t even know you could access if it will help with your assignments. You’ll be amazed how much help and support there is in your existing network but you’ll never find out if you keep your plans to yourself.
These three mantras certainly helped me to get through my diploma sans nervous breakdown and I hope they do the same for you. I get my final results at the end of February so keep your fingers crossed for me!
Are you thinking of doing some extra study or have you already started? What subject? How’s it going? Share the love in the comments!