Last week, Friday arrived and I realized I spent the entire week running around like a chicken without a head. I was busy working and taking care of my family. I didn’t feel that I really had an opportunity to focus on taking care of myself or doing things for me. And, there were a good number of items on my to-do list that fell by the wayside. I have to admit, this was not the first time a Friday rolled around and this was my reality. And I know this experience is not unique to me; I hear this sentiment constantly being echoed by friends, colleagues, and associates like you.
Many associates I speak with feel they are physically and emotionally spread too thin. Some associates are working multiple jobs for financial reasons or to gather hours quickly. Some are working full-time jobs and raising children or taking care of other family members. And others are doing all of these things simultaneously. Add to this full plate a licensing exam and poof, the feeling of overwhelm hits. The reality is that the more overwhelmed we feel, the more likely our anxiety will rise.
It’s important to address this early on, ideally at the onset of your exam preparations and take steps to feel greater balance.
Laying The Foundation for a Healthy and Balanced Study Schedule
1. Conduct an Assessment
The first step to creating greater balance in life is to take an honest inventory of the responsibilities in your life. Before you dive into your studying, take the time to have a clear picture of your daily/weekly/monthly schedule. This includes work, family, volunteer work, social engagements, studying, etc.
2. Prioritize Responsibilities
Once you’ve completed an assessment and developed a thorough inventory of all responsibilities, consider what items on your list are priorities. What must be accomplished immediately? Are there items on your list that can be postponed or delegated to someone else? Should certain priorities be completed before you begin to study or do time constraints require you take the exam by a certain date?
3. Stay Organized
Now that you have a sense of your responsibilities and have prioritized them, it’s time to get organized. A great tool to help you get and stay organized is by developing a clear plan. If you are using TDC, you are aware this is the starting point for all exam prep programs. You can either use our study plan template or a personal calendar.
4. Maintain Healthy Boundaries
Consider how much is on your plate before you begin to study and plan accordingly. If the priorities on your list cannot be completed, postponed, or delegated before your exam, use that knowledge to create a realistic study plan. For instance, if you are a single mother working full-time, it may not be practical for you to study 8-10 hours each week. That is absolutely fine. Plan on 1-2 hours each week and expect to schedule your exam further out. It’s important to recognize your reality and use that as a guide to develop a healthy study plan. This is one of the reasons TDC does not charge our users for extensions, we are well aware that life can get busy and you may need to stretch your study schedule out to avoid feeling overwhelmed each week. Don’t try to cram and create more stress for yourself. Take the time you need to move through your studies at a pace that makes sense for you.
For more on healthy boundaries, check out this past blog I wrote on the subject: https://www.therapistdevelopmentcenter.com/blog/role-healthy-boundaries-anxiety-management/
5. Take a breather
If you try to study while feeling overwhelmed, you will spend more time trying to learn and will not be able to engage with the materials or absorb them. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, your mind and body will be thankful for the respite. More importantly, you will be far more successful in completing the task at hand if you pursue it when you feel refreshed.
6. Ask for support
You are not in this alone. If you have family, friends, or colleagues who can provide support, don’t hold back in asking for it. Imagine what you would say to a client or a friend who is feeling overwhelmed and accept that advice for yourself. TDC also has coaches available to provide support and guidance as you study. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to your coach.
Of course, one of the best strategies to manage your test anxiety is to start with a program that provides you with direction, a clear starting and stopping point, and helps you feel adequately prepared for your exam. And that is where we come in. Learn all you need to know for your LMFT or LCSW exams by signing up for one of TDC’s exam prep program to help you prepare for your exams today! Amanda Rowan has helped thousands of therapists and social workers pass their licensing exams. Are you our next success story?