Staying on Track to Earning Your IT Certification

by Bill Heller

It seems like the days are getting shorter, weekends are going by faster and the list of things we intend to do is still waiting to be done. I know you’re thinking at the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is go home and study for an IT certification exam. Your mind is saying “I’m tired.” These words I’ve heard and have received in my inbox a lot lately.

Well, I know how you feel – believe me! As a working mom of four, I’m trying to balance family, kids’ school/activities, advancing my career, keeping the house clean, running errands, having a social life, and preparing for Cisco’s CCIE Enterprise certification exam. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it CAN be done. I tell my clients, family, friends, and co-workers, there are two rules to being successful. Only two rules to help you accomplish all the goals you’ve set and to have everything you’ve always wanted in life.

Rule #1 – Be Disciplined

Your level of discipline directly impacts your results. The motivation and adrenaline rush of starting something new will fade so you must be disciplined and consistent the entire journey. Decide that you’re going to study and put in the effort everyday no matter how you feel. If you only study and work hard when you feel good, you’ll never make it to exam day.

Lock in and beware of the distractions around you. Checking your notifications “really fast” will turn into an hour of mindless scrolling. Social media, TV, video games etc. are deterrents when preparing for IT certification exams. Missing out on these things is temporary. The growth and the reward you earn after passing a IT certification exam is long lasting.

Rule #2 – Be Good at Time Management

Create a schedule and stick to it. Don’t deviate from what you plan and don’t procrastinate. Procrastination kills! Sit down, and plan out your day, week or even month. I recommend scheduling a certain amount of study time per day. Two to three hours seem to be the sweet spot for attentional focus. Block out that time in your planner, on your Outlook and Google calendars, and let people know that you’ll be unavailable for that two-hour window.

Order other things on your To-Do list by priority. High priority items are allocated the most amount of time, and low priority items are allocated the least. If you really need help keeping track of things, creating reminders and alerts is extremely helpful. On my busy days, I even schedule texts to myself in advance.

Rule #3 – Support System

I’m going to honorably mention rule #3 – find or create a support system. No matter your reason for the journey, whether it’s more money, career advancement, job requirement or just for fun, earning IT certifications isn’t easy. Communicate with your support team how important the journey is to you. Share with them your why so they can push you when you’re tired, support you when you miss social events, and celebrate with you when you pass your exam.

Training Resources:
CCNA Certification
Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA v1.0)
Cisco Certifications
IT Course Catalog

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