study-life-balance

by ACCA student blogger Ng Jia Wen

Sometimes life throws not just lemons, but curveballs at you. How do you deal with it?

As I am attempting my final two ACCA papers and since I am a full time student, there are so many things that I will need to take charge of to prepare myself for the next chapter of my life.

A few years ago, when I started my journey with ACCA, I knew that I would have to sacrifice some things in order to keep my studies on track. The question that I always had (and I am sure many students have) was this; what would I have to sacrifice, and how much? Would I achieve that elusive study-life balance that everybody was talking about?

As I am nearing the end of my student life, I’ve come to a conclusion that study-life balance can be achieved. It’s just a matter of prioritizing, but how to prioritize, you ask? Everything seems important, phone calls to make, exams to study for, appointments to attend, work needs to be done.

The 80/20 rule

Pareto’s 80/20 rule of thumb is ‘80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes‘, quoted by Joseph M. Juran, the person who discovered the theory (later named the principle after Pareto). This goes to say 20% of the activities we do will affect 80% of the outcome.

I apply the 80/20 rule in every action I take every day. This way, I constantly remind myself that I should perform the activities necessary that will give a positive outcome, which is, of course, studying.

Of course, life goes on, unexpected events happen, but how do I make up for it?

Learn to say ‘No’

Sometimes I have emergencies that were unplanned and I would triple-book myself in a day. I’ll admit, it’s difficult, if not impossible to juggle so many things in one day.

The most important thing that I still struggle with is learning to say ‘no’. Growing up in an Asian parenting style, we were told that saying no is a bad thing, especially when saying it to your boss or your elders. I still struggle with saying no; holding the fear that people will view me negatively and I would disappoint them.

However, saying no to certain things that is too much for you is essential. I had a personal experience when I took on too many things at one time, I got too stressed and didn’t perform as well as I should have in everything that I had undertaken. Now, I only take on special tasks if I must and only if I am certain I can take on the role and perform it to my best.

Do stop to smell the roses

Often at times when I study and work too hard, I sometimes I forget that there are more things to life. After all, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

On some days, I take time off to allow myself to have a break, time with family and friends, and time to pick up a hobby.

I’d like to think that it’s good to have a balance of book smarts and street smarts. After all, the theory we learn in school may or may not be applicable in real life, but they give us a strong foundation for us to learn better in the future.

Hopefully by now you would have picked out some tips that I’ve delivered through this article. Until the next time, study hard and take care of your health!

exam_stress

by ACCA student blogger Shahroze Naeem

Countering exam stress is not as easy as it seems. You need to work on both your studies as well as your mental skills to keep calm throughout the examination. I remember how at first I almost convinced myself that I would fail Paper P2 after finding out that I had to draft a Statement of Changes in Equity.

I completely stopped writing for a while and thought of a possible way out of the situation. Discovering that there was no way out but to give it a try, I finally tried to recall everything that I had studied during preparation time. I fortunately cleared Paper P2 in that very attempt, at the December 2013 session.

What I realized later was that three study habits helped me return successful that day.

Reading inspirational quotes of the day

Surrounding yourself with positive energy is very important, especially when exams are nearing. Being short-tempered, tired or exhausted when studying will not help you at all. Keep yourself calm, take some time to read inspirational quotes, and then prepare for exams. You will yourself note the difference. Two inspirational people that I liked to read about were The Dalai Lama and Muhammad Ali.

Practising timed questions each day

Another activity that helped me was practising at least one timed exam question each day. No matter what, I would keep my clock with me and practice the longest question. At first, it would seem almost impossible. However, over time, I did improve my writing speed and time my comprehension skills quite a lot.

Writing down essay-length answers, no matter how easy the question might seem

For non-native students such as me, going through the question and jotting down main points is not going to help. You need proper expression and sentence structure, something that can only be learned if you write down complete essay-length answers. If you are still reluctant to do this every day, I suggest you attempt these questions at least twice a week over the holidays.

I hope that you find these three study habits useful during your preparation for the next examinations. Let me know how these tips are working out for you. Let’s be stress-free for the next examinations.

 

 

Photo credit: Pablo via Flickr

 

Never give up!

sandradacressmith —  2 September 2014 — 3 Comments

Pansblogt

by ACCA student blogger Pantelis Fouli 

‘The discomfort of change is better than the heartbreak of complacency.’

It’s only when you feel that the pain of giving up is greater than the pain of putting in the time and effort to chase your dreams, will you be able to move on, never give up and reach new heights.

This became very clear to me about a year and a half ago, after procrastinating I had virtually given up with my ACCA studies (I had 9 papers passed up until 2001 and then quit), that I realised something had to change. I knew I would have to sit down and ask myself what I wanted out of life, re-write my goals and consider the sacrifices myself and my family will make in order for me to achieve what I wanted. The pain of having given up was too high and I knew that once I had come up with a game plan I could do this.

Since December 2012 I have successfully sat another 2 papers and passed them first time, which leaves me with 3 papers left to get one step closer to ACCA membership.

From this experience I have learnt that I would need to attend all my lectures and being 40 years old I would need extra time to absorb the material. So after each lecture I would make sure I sit down for 30 minutes and review what I had learnt. I would then put time aside on weekends (in small chunks of 30-45mins) to revise again and attempt exam questions (without using the answers as an aide).

Here are some tips for you that I find very useful:

  • make your study area just that, an area where you can study with no or minimal distractions
  • make sure you get sufficient rest
  • learn material by recalling and reciting. Simply reading text over and over again will not magically enable you to learn it.

I am sure you have read and re-read all of the above a dozen times, so I go back to my original point – ‘The discomfort of change is better than the heartbreak of complacency’.

Never give up on your goals, whatever they maybe.

Good luck!

 

Photo credit: Nikola Ostrun via Flickr

TechAccountant

by ACCA student blogger Naresh John 

Hi all…so we’ve passed over the hurdle of results, I hope everyone was successful in their exams.

We’re approaching 2015 and already we’re seeing the dawn of a new era in education: From free online courses, like Discovering Business in Society to how we sit ACCA exams – as of January 2015 papers F1-F3 will only be available through Computer-Based Exams (CBEs) in certain countries. This shows us that technology is giving us new options and allowing us to do things in new and more efficient ways.

We as future accountants are exposed to technology in every aspect of our lives including work, study and leisure. Therefore in this article, I focus on how technology impacts our daily lives, referring to my own experiences and specifically relating to work and study.

Within the workplace, the internet leaves us with information overload on most occasions due to the near unlimited access we have. As such, we must use information wisely in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness at work.

Technology in the workplace can be utilized in several ways:

Mobility and access to information

With the use of video technology and the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN), employees no longer need to be in the office in order to communicate with their colleagues or have access to information related to work. Video technology can result in virtual meetings being set up via the use of programs such as Skype and will reduce transportation cost to the firm. With the use of VPNs, employees can configure their device to have access to the organization’s network once they have an internet connection. This will facilitate working from home which can motivate staff.

Improvement in efficiency

Technology saves times by speeding up the work flow process. This includes digital filing systems which save space, paper and printing costs. The use of computer systems allow for corrections to be made instantly via the use of software such as Microsoft SharePoint. In addition, submissions of documents for approval can be carried out quickly as the documents could be forwarded using email or via the intranet. This will save time especially in the case of submissions to be made to superiors who are not in the same geographic location.

Enhanced communication

Quite often, messages can be distorted when it passes through different individuals via ‘noise’. As such, the use of technology can allow messages to be sent to the all the parties necessary at the same time to ensure that the same message is received. In addition, communications will be quicker through the use of instant messaging and emails as opposed to letter writing or telephone calls.

With regards to study and academic related tasks, technology plays a key role as it has shaped the way that I carry out these tasks:

Life hack ‘to-do list’ apps  

Our daily routines and special events can be set on our phones or laptops to remind us of what we have to do for the day. This includes leisure as well as study time. As such, we can set study schedules in order to utilize our time more efficiently so that we can achieve the objective of passing all our exams.

Socialising with fellow students across the globe

Information technology has broken down the barriers of communication globally. Tools such as blogs, video communication and social networks (like the ACCA Learning Community) can connect global networks of individuals with a common interest. This allows for the exchange of ideas and getting a wider range of perspectives than if the individual was restricted to socialising with individuals from their country alone.

These are just a few of my thoughts as I believe that technology has indeed shaped our lives differently. While there are the benefits, there are also the inherent risks such as security issues (hackers, identity theft etc). We must therefore keep in mind that having the technology would not benefit us by itself, it is how we utilize the technology that will make our lives easier and more effective.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming semester. Take care till next time.

 

Photo by Luke Wroblewsk via Flickr

key-to-success

by ACCA student blogger Adhitya Fadriansyah

Hello everyone, how was your exam results? Did you pass all the papers you took? Congratulations to all of you who passed them all. Unfortunately for me, I took three professional papers and was only able to pass one of them, almost got a pass mark for another paper and got way below the 50% pass mark for the last one. In this article, I would like to share what I think was causing the failure, how I coped with the result and what I plan to do next.

What went wrong?

Bad planning – remember the previous article I wrote on self-study scheduling? I overlooked the part where I need to balance between workload and study time. For better planning, you may want to create a consolidated schedule between your study plan and your workload in the office. I miscalculated the part where there was an increasing workload in the months nearing the exams. For me personally, I would think twice if I should take more than two papers in one sitting (especially if you are working and self-studying).

How to cope with failure?

Share with someone – it is very relieving to share your difficult moments with someone. It can be your spouse, your family, your colleagues or even your boss. I am very lucky to have a very supportive manager. This is what she said when I told her that I only passed one paper:

You just need to keep trying. Do not get stressed out, it is a great experience. We need to be able to smile at our failure to overcome them successfully. So smile and try again!”

Her email really made my day – it makes me even more motivated to pass the ACCA exams.

Just keep remembering the reason you decided to study with ACCA in the first place. I always go back to The reason for my motivation article I wrote late last year, to help me keep motivated.

Think on the bright side. Think of it the other way around, focus on your success rather than your failure. I am now one paper closer on passing all the required papers on my journey to becoming an ACCA member! Yes, I did fail two papers and only passed one, but that only allows me to learn more and prepare better for the upcoming exam.

What’s next?

Have a better plan and learn from your past mistake – do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again. Remember Dory, the regal blue tang fish from Finding Nemo? Yes? Well ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming’ and eventually you will reach your final destination. Enjoy the journey, no matter how difficult it might be.

I would love to hear your experience, please share them and let’s pass the ACCA exams together!

 

Photo credit: Scott Robinson via Flickr