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"I'm studying for exams while working full time and it's killing me"

Can anyone give me some advice? I'm studying for the U.S. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams while working full time in project finance and it's proving almost impossible.

I've been working in a regional banking role for five years and I typically put in 10 or 11 hour days and have no social life. I want to improve my career prospects, so have started studying the CMA but am open to alternatives like the CFA exams. However, I'm only a few months into this, but already am really struggling.

I'd thought that I would be able to devote two hours every morning to studying, plus extra time at the weekends. But my day job seems to be taking up an increasing amount of my time and I'm under pressure to take on more and more work. It's become the case that I'm not only working 11-hour days during the weeks, but am putting in an additional five or six hours' work each weekend. 

In the circumstances, studying is almost impossible unless I give up on sleep. I'm married and my wife is very supportive but it's still not easy.

Does anyone else have experience of this? I'm at a crossroads. I'm thinking of simply giving up work and devoting myself to study so that I can get a good grade and a better job, but that's a big risk - and will these qualifications really make any difference?

Please add advice in the comments box at the bottom of this page!

Hassan Loke is a pseudonym 

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

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AUTHORHassan Loke Insider Comment
  • Ro
    Rob S.
    19 February 2020

    Having a full-time job while also pursing an education is a noble effort, but it's understandable why you feel like you need help. I think one of the best ways to help yourself is by by scheduling your time. Try to look at the hours you have in the day and break them up into different tasks so that you stay on-track. Many educational tours companies recommend this, too. Best of luck!

  • Op
    Opeyemi Victor Praise
    22 January 2020

    I also have a family - a wife and a daughter and I am writing CFA exams. Here are some of the things you could do:
    1. Re-organize your life for better efficiency. You might spend more money but you will save time. Spend more money where you could, so you can buy time. For instance, live closer to work to cut down commute time.
    2. As you have said your family is supportive. Get help instead of physically doing chores; you might have to pay for it. Let family know it is just for a period of time. Get them to understand your busyness and not to misconstrue it for not loving them.
    3. Cut away distractions. Get a place to read if you have to rent a co-location or go to library. With wife and children around, you might too many distraction.
    4. Maximize every bit of your time. Use video materials; listen when in transit. Try to put in at least 2 hours every day and much more over the weekend.
    5. Be disciplined.

    You will definitely make. There are many people like you and we are making it. Cheers.

  • st
    12 January 2020

    I sympathise. Like you, I am working in a bank (doing KYC) and I put in 10 hours a day at work from Mondays to Fridays. I don't work on weekends though. I have been juggling between work and studying for the Chartered Accountant exams for one year and it really is not easy. I count myself lucky to have a supportive spouse and no kids to look after. This is how my personal schedule looks like:

    6 am - yoga/meditate for 30 mins (or if I am exhausted, I sleep in), followed by a quick shower
    6.45 am - study accountancy for 1 hour, leave for work
    8..30 to 6.30 pm - work (breakfast is taken at my desk)
    6.30 to 8.00 pm - exercise
    8 pm - downtime for 2 hours (use this time to get ready for the next day, shower, talk to your spouse)
    10 pm - study accountancy for 2 hours
    midnight - sleep

    It is critical that you allow yourself some time to decompress when managing a hectic schedule, so I generally use the commute time to do absolutely nothing, and use the exercise time to relax. If I've had a horrid day at work, the exercise allows me to vent my anger/frustration and by the time I am out of the gym, my mood has improved and I am ready to move on and work on accountancy.

    Keep the larger goal in mind, and hang in there :)

  • Da
    Damarius Wingfield
    11 January 2020

    Try to organize which task from hardest easiest and focus the lesser ones for say an hour while a bit to the largest. Oh and Pomodoro Technique.

  • Ga
    11 January 2020

    Never surrender man! If you believe it then you can do it!

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