How To Increase Productivity To Study For The CPA Exam


If you are like me, your life is getting busier and busier all of the time. There is always something on the to-do list and studying for the exam is never convenient. In order to make quality time for studying, many things that are considered a routine part of my lifestyle had to change. There is really no realistic way around it. I have tried in the past to fit the exam into my life by finding pockets of time here and there to study when I could. However, finding time to study was extremely difficult. 

I eventually learned that my approach was all wrong.

In order to be productive in my study habits, I had to fit my life around the exam. I made a list of what was a priority at this stage in my life; passing the CPA exam is in the top five. Therefore, I had to treat it accordingly by moving some things that had typically been at the top of my list to the bottom and vice versa. For example, washing dishes and doing laundry all of a sudden did not seem as important, and neither was watching my favorite TV show or catching up with old friends on the telephone. In addition, cooking dinner, getting pedicures, checking my social media pages, or volunteering at my son’s school used to be closer to the top of my list. Now, things are different. Consequently, I have included my personal tips on how I increased my productivity tremendously. 

First, it is true that prepping and preparing a home cooked meal does not have to take a considerable amount of time, but it still takes time nonetheless.

Cooking also leads to doing dishes, which consumes even more time. As a result, I may cook once a week, as opposed to 2-4 times a week. I found that time was better used for watching a lecture or two from my CPA review course. 

Second, I pick one day on the weekend to wash clothes, while studying, so that I can remain productive during the week. 

Next, I DVR all of my favorite shows and allow only a certain amount of time per week to watch them, but it has to be conducive to my schedule. There are many, many TV shows on my DVR at this point; some of them I may never get to watch but, again, it is not as much of a priority as it used to be. 

Regarding friends, I only talk to them after I have met my study goal for the day.

I have made certain that my closest friends are aware that I am studying for this exam and that there may be extended periods of time when they will not hear from me. I’m grateful to have great friends who are very understanding and supportive. I have also had friends that were not so much, and that is okay too. 

It’s also important to be aware that distractions from productivity will always be there.

For instance, social media takes up more time that most realize. So, I deactivated my Facebook page and no longer use Twitter, which leaves me with an Instagram account only. I have set a goal: stop checking Instagram as well by the time I am ready to sit for my last exam. 

Sometimes, you may even have to step away from other commitments. Late last year, I had accepted a Treasurer position for the booster club at my son’s high school. Shortly thereafter, I got serious about studying for the exam and quickly rescinded my acceptance. Although I felt terrible about doing so, it just took up too much of my time and was not as high up on my priority list as studying for the exam. 

Over time, I have learned that creating opportunities that enhance your productivity is crucial to the ability to study for the exam effectively.

Now, my priority list is clear and concise. I am a mom. I am an auditor. I am a CPA candidate. That is it for the moment. Everything that I do should line up with those things and clear the way to increasing productivity in all that I set my mind to do, including studying for the CPA exam.

–Kimberly Smith, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review 

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