Have you created your NCIDQ study plan yet? Are you finding it challenging to fit study time in your schedule?
Maybe you've read this story floating around on social media about a professor with a jar filled with stones…
He asks his students whether the jar is full, and they say yes. The professor then adds pebbles, and they trickle between the large stones.
“Is it full now?” he asks. “Yes!” they exclaim.
Sand is added next, filling the voids between the pebbles. “Is it full?” he poses the question again.
The audience pauses. “I guess not,” they say.
Water pours in next, filling the jar to the top.
Our perception of what’s “full” is often not really accurate and it comes down to perception. There’s usually room to expand. You just have to be open to looking at it in a different way.
What are the “large stones” in your life? Doing what you love? Passing the NCIDQ exam?
Taking the NCIDQ exam has been on your mind but perhaps pushed aside because you’re “just too busy”. Perhaps “maybe next year” might sound familiar. Guess what — unless you’re planning an enormous life change, your calendar a year from now isn't going to be any lighter.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Like one of the rocks in the jar, it needs to be prioritized and in position early – otherwise it won’t fit in later when all the smaller stuff takes over. It just takes some planning and we’re here to help. Here’s five ways to squeeze your NCIDQ study plan into your life – starting right now:
1. Time and black holes
Assess how you’re really spending your time for two or three days, and be truthful. Write down everything you do from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to sleep. Besides being at work, pay special attention to the murky in-between moments like:
- How much Netflix are you watching?
- How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
- How long do you browse Instagram or Facebook?
- What do you do on your lunch break?
- How long are you spending preparing meals and clean-up?
- When do you do errands? Daily after work or most of your Saturday afternoon?
- Do you commute to work on a train, bus or subway? How do you spend this time?
Write it all down. Look for black holes in your schedule. A black hole is a time waster where nothing is achieved.
You’ll likely come up with several hours of time each that could be devoted to studying for the NCIDQ. It won’t be in huge blocks of time, but rather 30 minutes here or 60 minutes there. Just watching TV an hour every night adds up to 7 hours a week of potential study time!
You could watch a few short NCIDQ videos in the Qpractice Answer Vault instead and learn something to move you towards you goals.
2. See where you can trim time
While you still need to get all your stuff done, there are ways you can do it more efficiently and open up some study time for yourself. Here are a few suggestions:
- Read or review flashcards if you ride a train, bus or subway to work.
- Carry your Ebook with you on your phone or tablet so you can study while you wait for your dental or doctor appointment instead of flipping through magazines.
- Replace your Instagram habit with time in a NCIDQ study group instead.
- Dedicate half your lunch break to eating and the other half to studying. Or, after you’ve eaten, get an errand or two done on your break instead of on your way home.
- Consider a work “uniform” or capsule wardrobe. Lay out your next day’s work clothes the night before so getting ready in the morning is less scattered and drawn out.
- Get a less complicated hair style that you can put up or allow to dry naturally. Ten minutes saved in the morning is golden.
- Cut down on dinner prep once or twice a week with putting together slow cook meal in the Instant Pot before you go to work. It will smell good when you get home too!
- Take advantage of delivery services, such as dry cleaning, laundry and meal kits or grocery delivery.
- Ask for more help around the house until exam time. Maybe your significant other or roommate is willing to step up their game for a few months by taking on more cleaning, cooking or shopping responsibilities. Have a conversation about it.
3. Create a weekly schedule for yourself
Once you figure out where you’re wasting time and where you might be able to cut back, make a weekly life schedule for yourself.
You can start off with a simple pencil and paper version, or plug your schedule into a digital format like Google Calendar, iCal or Microsoft Outlook and sync up with your tablet or phone. What’s good about an electronic device is you can set an alarm to prompt you when your study session is due to start or end.
Make sure to schedule in gym time, errands and down time. If you don’t allow yourself some relaxation, it's unlikely you'll stay on course. So schedule in your favorite TV show or a Friday date night.
If you mess up, don’t be too hard on yourself. No one’s perfect and sometimes unexpected life stuff gets in the way. Just make the time up within the week.
4. Take it one day at a time
The objective is to set study goals for yourself in your weekly schedule and break them down into daily objectives.
You can use the Qpractice study schedule as a guide to fill study events into your weekly schedule. Each day, you'll know how many pages you need to cover or which drawings you can work on. This makes it manageable. Once you get going, taking a step back and seeing your progress becomes even more inspiring.
Qpractice has some study resources available that you'll want to implement in your NCIDQ study plan.
Checkout what's new at Qpractice like our Live Workshops and Saturday Office Hours.
5. Reward yourself!
Sure, you should celebrate once you pass the exam, but don't forget to give yourself a small reward occasionally for sticking to your study schedule.
Have coffee with a friend, go to a movie or maybe get a massage. Your plan will be more likely succeed if you have something to look forward to.