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Relax... but take time to think about your future Nick du Plessis

IT is that time of the year again and, if you were studying during this past year, you have no doubt finished with your exams.

Now, if you studied and put effort into your studies, your results will reflect your effort.

Many people you talk to will tell you that they never put in the required hours of study and they could go the exam room confidently and without any stress... And, if you are willing to risk your relationship with them, ask them how it went. We all make promises to ourselves when we sit in that exam room: "next year I will put in more effort". But, the next year, when you find yourself sitting in the same boat, you will be pawning the same promises off to the next year.

To avoid the stresses that accompany studying, I would like to share some of my study tips with you for next year.

  • Tip 1: Decide to study something that will help you in your career, even if it is just to give you an advantage by keeping you ahead of the pack in your field of expertise.
  • Tip 2: Get buy-in from your family and friends - this support will be valuable and give you a boost when times get tough in your studies. 
  • Tip 3: Believe in yourself and that you can do it. 
  • Tip 4: Create a study timetable in which you allocate specific times to study. Ensure that everyone around you - family and friends - know about this time that you have allocated and ask them to respect this so they will not ‘tempt' you out of your study time.
  • Tip 5: Create a ‘safe' space in your house where you can study. Keep this space free from distractions and as relatively noise-free as possible. In addition, ensure that friends and family are aware of your study space so that they do not disturb you.
  • Tip 6: Do some research on the programme or course you have decided to do: verify the credentials of the provider, ensure that you are going to get a certificate that is recognised by others as having value and ensure that you have the financial resources and time to commit to the requirements of the chosen programme or course.
  • Tip 7: If you are aiming to improve your career, check with your supervisor, manager or HR department to see if the programme is accepted by your organisation, and get their support as you would need time off for tests and exams. You may find that the organisation even has a policy in place where they give you financial support. 
  • Tip 8: Attend a programme that teaches you how to learn, how to make study notes and how to speed read. This is probably one of the most vital points but one which, unfortunately, is taken for granted by most people and is therefore the downfall of many who start off with enthusiasm and then ‘fall by the way'. 
  • Tip 9: Ensure that you keep up-to-date with assignments and make study notes to prevent the stress of the night before cramming sessions. In addition, keeping up to date with the programme or course content ensures that you are continuously monitoring your progress and understanding of the work, thus, if any problems arise you will be able to resolve them quickly and efficiently.
  • Tip 10: Remember: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. While it is vitally important to be dedicated and hard-working as far as your studies are concerned, the end of the year offers the perfect opportunity to have fun, relax and recharge for the year ahead. 

With that said, I would like to thank everyone who has commented on articles I have written. I wish all Christian readers a peaceful, joyful and Christ-filled Christmas and to all Sparks readers: If you are going on holiday, drive safely and look out for others.

My new year's wish for you: Like birds, let's leave behind what we don't need to carry: grudges, sadness, pain, fear, and regrets... fly light! Life is beautiful.

Please send requests for any training issues you would like me to address to and mark them ‘Sparks column'.