How do you stop procrastinating and study for your CCNA CCNP?
Netflix. Hulu. Amazon. TV. Facebook. Dumb, pointless games on your phone.
Distractions are a way of life. There is nothing better than getting home from a long day at the office and plopping in front of the TV to binge on some Netflix. (Have you seen the latest, Ironfist? It’s great. I’m avoiding it right now to make this video/blog!!) You have already spent most of your intellectual energy on meetings, troubleshooting and designing…..how can you ever must up the strength to resist a gaming session to study for your CCNA or CCNP? This is something I struggle with Every. Single. Day. Even now I am having thoughts of putting off finishing this video to go lay on the couch and relax. It’s even more difficult when you have a wife who has been killing herself all day taking care of the kids and just wants to chill with you.
Sometimes you can brute-force your way into studying. I usually start the process on my commute home, a time when I am already planning my relaxing evening. Most evenings, by the time I get home, I have already convinced myself that studying is stupid and that I really need to find out if Walter and Jesse ever wise up and retire to the Caribbean. To avoid this dilemma, I start telling myself I need to study and it won’t be that bad. I remind myself of all the reasons why I need to study and sometimes I am motivated enough to actually study when I get home. But, like all brute-force attacks, they are ineffective and a poor use of energy. This strategy rarely works.
The BEST CCNA CCNP STUDY METHOD
Another, much more effective method, the Pomodoro technique. If you watched my 7 CCNA CCNP Study Tips for the New Year video, you will remember me mentioning the Pomodoro timer as a fantastic studying tool. This technique is based on working (or studying in our case) for 20-25 minute intervals and using a timer to keep yourself focused and accountable. Why the name Pomodoro? It is derived from the Italian word for tomato, which was the shape of the timer used by the inventor of this technique. (Just a fun fact for your DAY!)
Again, I can’t say this enough, it is the BEST method I have found to effectively obliterate procrastination and revolutionize your CCNA CCNP studies. (I’m even using it right now to make this video!) So, KEEP READING:
This technique can also be used with WORK and is something I have recently started trying. It really only works on projects (sometimes!) and it’s hard when you have outages or issues. (Which is MOST of the time!!) So, how do you stop procrastinating and study for your CCNA CCNP using the Pomodoro Technique?
How to Study for the CCNA CCNP with the Pomodoro Technique
- Pick one study task to work on.
I say this because there are a lot of things you can do to study for your CCNA CCNP, from watching a video, to reading a book, to working a lab. You need to pick one specific task to focus on. Do not try to multitask, it just doesn’t work. This can be reading a few pages in your CCNA Official Study Guide or watching a video on INE or CBT Nuggets.
- Only work on this task for 25 minutes.
Try to stay completely focused on your study task for this duration until the timer goes off. This can be difficult if you have kids (see my trying to study with kids post) so do your best. Not every 25 minute session will be perfect and sometimes you have to press pause. (I literally just had to get up and spank my 3 year old for not listening……..the struggle is real!)
- During this 25 minute session, write down any distractions. If you think of anything else you need to do (or want to do) it helps to write it down and keep studying. Your only job during this 25 minute session is to focus on the task at hand.
I also noticed that sometimes, when I’m studying, I will learn a concept and before I finish the video I will try to lab it up. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it actually helps reinforce the concept, it does interfere with your study productivity. It’s best to reserve your lab time as a separate 25 minute session. So, if there is a concept you know you want to lab up in GNS3, write it down and save it for your lab session. I also have to fight the temptation to log into my work equipment and look at some configurations if something I’m learning might apply to something I need to do at the office. This is also something that TOTALLY DERAILS my study time, because I will honestly spend the rest of the evening working. So, again, write this down and save it for your work day.
- Take a 5 minute break. Then rinse and repeat.
This is where you reward yourself for an intense, 25 minute focused study session. Take this time to stretch, grab a snack, get a drink, use the bathroom….etc. You need to actually step away from your study area for 5 minutes. You need that mental break, that mental separation.
You will go through the process 4 times before taking a longer break of 20 minutes to an hour. I usually use my longer break to brew another cup of coffee or attend to the needs of my family before jumping into another session.
Why you need to do this and why it works so well for CCNA CCNP Study
- Studying for your CCNA CCNP can be an overwhelming task. I often find myself feeling completely spread thin when I think about all that I have to study and it causes me to put studying to the side……commonly known as PROCRASTINATION!! The Pomodoro Technique allows you to attack your CCNA CCNP study in smaller, more manageable battles instead of being overwhelmed by the war that is the CCNA CCNP certification. It’s a mind thing. If you get home and are completely stressed out, it’s really hard to convince yourself to study. But…..you can more easily convince yourself to knock out just a few 25 minute sessions.
On my weakest days, I tell myself I will at least do 1 25 minute session….just so I can say I studied. This is a beautiful way of tricking myself into studying longer….which is what usually happens.
- It really helps with distractions. This is why step 3 is so crucial. You make it a point to put off any other task until your task is complete. If a distraction pops into your brain YOU SQUASH IT…by writing it down. Also, if your wife asks you to do something or your kids come ask you a question, this is where your productivity JEDI skills kick in and you tell them you will get to it in a moment. You are in a focused session right now. That usually doesn’t fly…..but when they know it’s just a 25 minute session they are usually more forgiving.
Some helpful tips on this method:
- 25 minutes is just a template. You can make it longer…..just not too much longer. Experiment and figure out what works.
- If your breaks need to be longer….that’s okay too! Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself refreshed and focused.
- Change up your location every session. This seems to help with the monotony of studying and keeps your mind clear. I usually rotate between my home office, the kitchen table and outside when the weather is nice
Visit these awesome websites for more info on this technique:
THE POMODORO TIMER: