I have been getting a lot of questions lately, since I have achieved three Microsoft certifications this year with another promised by October. For the first five months of the year, I was struggling to find the time and motivation to study. The key for me was to find or create both those elements, at the same time. Here are some tips for what worked for me…

TV Rots The Brain, Snookie

Everyone is busy these days–We’re all overworked, overbooked, and value any little time to ourselves we can grab. But when time to ourselves is just sitting in front of the television watching whatever is on… That time can be better spent. If a show was on in an hour, I found myself watching the previous hour leading up to it with whatever was on. I cut out that mindless hour each night and dedicated the time to studying. As a reward, I would finish and watch the show I actually intended on seeing! Believe me, there is nothing to miss on reruns of Jersey Shore… Or to really be honest, on new episodes either.

Sorry, FaceBook :(

Are you really going to miss out on life if you spend less time on FaceBook looking at photos of your friends and their pets? I cut out some of my tweeting and FaceBook stalking and suddenly found myself with extra time to study during the day, especially around lunch time. And despite popular belief, my social life did not wither and die.

“What’s My Motivation?”

I spent five months avoiding thinking about my exam and studying. Since I kept procrasinating, there was no way to get motivated. What really did it for me was the change to the MS partner network coming this year. Suddenly, specific certifications will mean a lot more and that motivates me to make myself a commodity. Does my career depend on it? Probably not, but I see a way to differentiate myself and stand out in a good way. It’s the same reason I am the only person on the 3rd floor to wear a tie every day. Everyone’s motivation is different… You just have to find it, and to find it you have to think about it.

5 Seconds MacGruber!

This may be obvious, but once you pay money to schedule your exam, it suddenly becomes a lot more real. Maybe it’s the fear of failure, maybe it’s the cheapskate in us all that doesn’t want to waste the $125, or maybe it’s the ticking clock counting down to your doom… Whatever the underlying reason, having a hard deadline is a strong motivator. I put a target date on my exam, and once I got within a couple weeks I anted up and got official with it. When you’re in cram mode with a day left you can always find some extra time to study!

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