How to Organize Your Time

Carve Out Time to Study

From Joe: One of the hardest things about passing the CPA Exam is just finding the time to do the preparation that is necessary. We all live full lives that keep us running around constantly. Then, we suddenly try to add in a number of hours of study each day and there simply is not enough available time. I cannot tell you how often people write to tell me that they get to the end of each day exhausted without having found the time to do any studying. It is frustrating.

How can you get organized enough to find sufficient time to study? Well, I have two pieces of advice.

First: Each morning I get up and do stretching exercises for about 30 minutes. I am a big believer that stretching keeps you active and helps you feel younger. Then, I have my breakfast (an odd mix of four types of grains, Greek yogurt, blueberries, three types of nuts, and Cheerios). While I eat breakfast, I make a list of everything that I want to get accomplished during the day. For example, my list for today has 14 things on it.

Then, as I finish up my meal, I go back and number the items on my list in the order that I am going to try to get them done. I number each of these things based on how long they are going to take and how important they are to get done today. For today, I have 14 things on my list numbered 1 through 14. I have accomplished the first five and now I'm on number six: “write email lesson for CPA Review for Free.”

I stick the list in my pocket and carry it around all day. It serves as my guide throughout the day.

What I find is that on days where I have the list, I get more done (often much more done) than on those days where I fail to create the list. Knowing what I want to get accomplished and putting those tasks into a structure helps me to stay organized and focused on what I want and need to do. I often have to rearrange the schedule during the day as events pop up in my life. But having the basic structure helps me get more accomplished. I have a road map for my day.

For me, the key is having the self-discipline to use my time during breakfast to make that list. If I don’t get it done at breakfast, it doesn’t get done and I tend to wander around unorganized all day.

Give it a try. Tomorrow morning, set aside a few minutes to make your “to do” list for that day and make sure that studying for the CPA Exam takes up a prominent position. Try it for a few days and see if you don’t feel a greater sense that you are actually making legitimate progress toward passing the CPA Exam.

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