Gaining your professional qualifications is something that will give your career a firm foundation – regardless of whether you decide to actually become an accountant, insolvency practitioner, lawyer or consultant. However, unlike university or school, this time around you have to fit your study around the day job. Having gained my MCIPD and written three books around the day job and demands of a young family, here are my thoughts on how to gain your qualifications and still excel at work.

1. Do just enough study

Unlike when you were at university or school, this time around you just need to pass. You normally don’t get any long term benefit from gaining a merit or distinction. A pass is good enough! Your partnership prospects will not get better or worse whether you have a pass or a distinction. Just make sure you do enough to pass first time around.

2. Find out when you study best

Having written three books whilst running a business (think of a book as a 12 month dissertation), you will need to plan in your study either before the day job starts or after the day job finishes. It all depends on what works best for you. I found that when I was really up against deadlines, getting to my desk at 5 am and doing 2 hours work before starting the working day really worked for me. Experiment for what works for you.

3. Take holiday before your exams

To help you perform at your best in your exams take some annual leave before your exams. If you can take a week off, do so. This will allow you to shut off from work and really focus on your study.

4. Plan out your study

Cut down what you need to learn for your exams into small bite-sized pieces. Then timetable in your diary when you will focus on these chunks. This will help you pace yourself.

5. Don’t burn the candle too much at both ends

Your future employment depends on passing these exams. Whilst it may be tempting to enjoy the party life style fuelled by a decent salary, it’s time to reduce the partying. After all you can party as much as you like after your exams have finished. However, too much study makes Jack a dull boy, so don’t become a hermit, but do remember that work and study now comes first. If you have planned out your study, then you will know when you can afford to let your hair down a little.

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