Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 2: Time Management

Now that your study materials and workspace are organized, it is time to discuss time management. Students often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information to be learned in order to pass the exam. Some people feel like they do not have enough time to do all they want to do, so finding additional time to study for the Customs Broker Exam seems like an impossible task.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have a natural ability to get things done without appearing stressed out, while others are often late in completing tasks and appear to be rushed all of the time? Have you ever thought that certain people accomplish more because they don’t have to work full time, or they don’t have children or they have more money? Even if those reasons were true, it doesn’t change the fact that everyone has the same amount of time each day. The difference is in how you choose to use your time. Time cannot be bought or saved. Once time is gone, you cannot get it back. Your ability to pass the exam as well as accomplish other goals begins with how you manage your time.

What are some of the causes of time management problems? Three of the most important causes of problems related to time management are procrastination, poor planning and wasting time.

Procrastination is a tendency to avoid a harder or less pleasant task in favor of doing an easier one. Procrastination often results in added stress due to missed deadlines or last minute preparation to meet a deadline. No one needs or wants additional stress and stress is not good for our health. Visualize what will happen if you procrastinate by putting of studying for the exam. Do you see success or failure? Procrastination is not an option when you visualize success!

Poor planning is another culprit that sabotages achievement of success. You must prioritize and create schedules to accomplish the tasks necessary to accomplish your goals. Once you make up our mind to take the exam, you must create a study plan and make it a priority. Of course, most aspiring brokers have full time jobs and personal obligations; however, by creating a plan and schedule that allots specific time for study, you can ensure success by following that schedule. You can’t expect to pass the exam unless you make the effort.

Wasting time is one of the biggest problems exam students face. When too much time is spent doing things that are unproductive, you rob yourself of valuable time that could be spent studying for the exam. It may not be the activity itself that is unproductive, but the amount of time spent doing the activity that creates the problem. If you like watching television, watching one favorite show is not unproductive because it provides relaxation and a sense of well-being. However, watching several hours of television to avoid studying is unproductive. Playing a game on the computer for 15 minutes is not necessarily unproductive because it provides a break from the routine that gives your mind a rest. However, playing computer games for hours robs you of time that could have been spent studying.

What can you do to improve time management in order to pass the Customs Broker’s Exam?
The tools and methods adopted to manage time wisely will largely depend on the amount of individual’s experience with issues covered on the exam, learning styles, ability to grasp and retain new information, work schedule and other personal issues. We have provided a few suggestions below. At the end of this article, you can comment on these and provide some ideas of your own.

· Create a Calendar
Your calendar should allocate time for work, study, exercise, meals, family and personal time. Set a regular time for study. You may want to check off the items completed each day and keep track of time spent on each task.

· Identify Priorities
Prioritize tasks and create a “To Do” List. Compete the most important tasks first. If not all tasks are completed, putting off the least unimportant task isn't procrastination, it's probably good prioritization.

· Learn to Say “NO”
Explain to people that you must study to pass the test and you will be available in a few weeks. Six to eight weeks of intense study is a small commitment of time when you think about the rewards of passing the exam and the amount of free time you will have when you no longer need to study.

· Make Time For Family
Set aside special time for family each week. Remember, quality over quantity. Your family will appreciate the time you spend with them and be more understanding of your need to study when you devote special time for them.

· Set Aside Time for Exercise
Regular exercise reduces stress and promotes good health. Exercise can provide a welcome break from your studies by giving your mind a chance to relax and think of something else. Your choice of exercise can be anything from gardening, walking around the block to a game of softball or a workout at the gym.

· Limit Unproductive Activities
Reduce the amount of time spent on the phone, watching television, reading email, playing computer games, etc. There will be plenty of time for these activities when you finish the exam. Take the necessary phone calls, but do not use the phone as an excuse for not studying.

· Make Good Use of Unproductive Time

1. Waiting
At one time or another, you will find yourself waiting for something. The wait may be at the doctor’s office or at an airport. Anticipate circumstances that are likely to create unavoidable delays and be sure to have your notes handy. You can make great use of that time to study. Instead of being upset because you were stuck in the airport for two hours because your plane was late, you can be excited that you were able to devote two more hours to your studies.

2. Commute
Whether it’s by train or car, most people have some type of commute to work. Use the commute time to listen tothe audio lectures on CD. Turn that hour spent in a traffic jam into productive study time.

3. Lunch
Do you really need an hour to eat lunch? Consider devoting three of your lunch breaks each week to study. Treat yourself to a nice lunch out at the end of the week.

· Reward Yourself
Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. When you have achieved a goal, reward yourself. It may be as small as allowing yourself 30 minutes of television or spending 30 minutes playing a video game to something more significant such as a vacation or cruise after receiving news you passed the exam.

We welcome your comments on these suggestions and encourage you to add your own ideas to this forum so that other students studying for the exam can benefit from your experiences.

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