Balancing Life, Work, and the CPA Exam

With so many things going on around us that consume our limited time, energy, and attention, how is it possible to add anything else on top of our already overly demanding schedules? As you may have noticed, if you read my previous blog, I am a person that loves having multiple things happening in my life at once. Preparing for the CPA exam alone can take 15-20+ hours a week of studying. At first, I felt uncertainty about whether I could handle the additional study hours on top of my work schedule, marriage, family relationships, friendships, and all the other things going on in my personal life.

It takes courage to be clear about what you want and to go for it. And it takes even more courage to tell your loved ones, your boss, and your friends what you need so that you may accomplish those goals. A couple of years ago, being forward was not one of my strengths, I had embraced “beating around the bush” and hoped that everyone would just see how important passing the CPA Exam was to me without having to communicate how much help I would need.

After my first two attempts at taking the FAR exam, and feeling like I was spinning my wheels, I realized something was going to have to give. To create more time, the first thing I did was reexamine my friendships, were the friends I chose to spend my additional time with giving me energy or were they taking up more of my time than I could provide? I decided to carefully step back from those friendships which were not as supportive or understanding of my endeavors.

I knew I had to communicate to my husband that I needed more help, this was a challenge for me as I had a lot of unrealistic pressure on myself that I could “do it all.” We talked about things that he could help take over temporarily while I studied, such as grocery shopping, taking on a few more chores around the house, and cooking dinner on the days that I worked. We suddenly felt more like we were working on the same team as now he got to play a more supportive role in helping me study and prepare to take the exams.

I had worked while going to school, and I had decided it would be best for me to keep my school schedule, as studying for the CPA Exam felt like I was back in school again. Luckily, my work is mainly project-based as I work in tax accounting, so my firm had agreed to lower my work hours to as low as 32+ hours a week during the slow periods, as long as I could still contribute 60+ hours a week during our tax deadlines. I had to utilize a lot of testing strategies to ensure that I could study and test in enough time before a tax deadline arrived. Using the UWorld Roger CPA Review Smart Path Technology tool in conjunction with the study schedule they provide was a lifesaver for me in terms of efficiency and studying while working.

The last big thing that I needed to tackle in finding more time was communicating this to my family. Now I happen to live precisely 15 minutes between my family and my husband’s family. Somedays, this feels like a gift, and other days it feels like a curse! Luckily for me, I enjoy all the time I can get with our families, but while I’m studying for the CPA Exams, I learned it was better to let them know when I needed to focus. I now plan get-togethers with our families rather than random unscheduled visits.

I realized that communicating what I needed was the most powerful tool in finding a way to take on more. That, of course, and being fully present. I found that I could spend less time, but it was a more meaningful experience if I was fully present with my friends and loved ones. While I am at work, I am 100% focused on work. While I am studying, I am 100% focused on studying. When I’m having dinner or breakfast with my husband, he has my full attention. Communication and presence are how I learned to balance the many important things I have going on in my life. I hope that whatever you are juggling that you find a balance so that you may pursue and enjoy all of the things that challenge and excite you.

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