Earning a project management certification is the top career goal for project managers — over 1 in 5 PMs want to get a certification.
Once you leave education and enter the workforce, trying to learn new things can be a challenge.
Although you have good intentions, life often gets in the way since you have many more items competing for your attention.
For project managers, many of us want to get certified, but we simply can’t find the time given our work and social commitments for a
If it’s important to you, you need to make the time. But how? In this article, I’ll share 5 practical tips to find time to study while working a full-time as a project manager.
1. Create a
PMP study plan
Treat getting your
Make sure your study plan covers the 3 exam content outline domains for the exam, and break down your time to give each section enough time.
You could also split the study plan between topics or
Having the study plan is not enough; you need to ensure you are executing your plan. Revisit what you had planned to do on weekly basis to ensure that you are on track. If you are behind schedule, you need to understand why you fell behind and then find ways to catch up.
For extra accountability, you can also find an accountability partner to check in on you on regular basis.
2. Study on your commute to work
I love killing two birds with one stone. Don’t you get frustrated being stuck in traffic? What if you can turn this time into productive study time?
Choose learning materials that allow you to watch videos on multiple devices, access the learning management system when you are on the go and download training webinars to watch when you are offline.
Using your commute time for studying is one of the best ways to fit studying into your schedule without having it conflict with other activities in your life.
This goes for any type of professional project management certification that you are studying for, not just the
3. Schedule your revision
You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Rome was not built in a day.” Cramming for a major exam last minute will probably not yield favorable results.
Even if you pass, you probably won’t retain the information for very long. A better strategy to studying for your
Then repeat, so you refresh your learning over time as well, consolidating your learning and building confidence in the topic.
Carve out half an hour to an hour every day and devote that time to studying. Make sure that you mark this time on your calendar so that you get a reminder (e.g. 7:00AM – 7:30AM every day).
Being consistent is the key to success. Remember: slow and steady wins the race.
4. Make it a priority
When there’s a will, there’s a way. Having the right mindset is the key to acing the
When you make it a priority, you will devote more time to studying and schedule your other commitments around it. Getting
You only need to study for a few short months, maybe forego a few social engagements, and you’ll be certified for life (as long as you evidence you are collecting PDUs on the recertification cycle) – there is light at the end of the tunnel!
5. Take study leave
Many employers will allow you take some study leave to get
By taking study leave, you free up your schedule to focus on studying without the demands of your day job. Talk to your manager or HR personnel to see if taking study leave is a possibility for you, and if so, build that extra time into your
Tip: If you are able to take some time off work, remember to save a day of your leave for the exam itself.
Bonus tip: Know your limits
If you consistently work overtime and push your body to exhaustion, you will burnout sooner or later. It’s important to balance work, study with leisure activities. By giving your mind and body a break, you will actually retain more information when you study again.
It’s important to know your limits and balance your work and study accordingly.
These tips should help you find precious time in your work days to make the most of the hours you have available to you.
CAPM and PMP Prep Books
- The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe
- PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy
- CAPM Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide from PMI
- The 50 PMP Exam Questions Everyone Gets Wrong by Cornelius Fichtner
A version of this article appeared in 2017.