Time Management: Dealing with Distractions

Written by Randy Refeld: 1002234_610788708938915_86604121_n

On Monday of this week I began reviewing for Exam FM. Like most great procrastinators, I started by cleaning my office. After spending a few hours filing away my notes and papers from the just-completed semester, I began my work.

Being an Adapt subscriber, I took advantage of the FM2 study schedule that comes with the Adapt subscription. I downloaded it and put in the date and the date I wanted to complete my studying. I am testing on June 23rd, so I selected June 1 as my completion date. They recommend leaving 30 days to work practice problems. I decided to leave a week less. I took a class over this material in the fall, so I am not studying this from scratch. As an aside, if I was studying this from scratch, I would allow much more time than the few weeks I have dedicated.

The FM scheduler lists all the SOA Topics, along with the ASM section, ASM subsection(s) Adapt Topic Name, suggested subsection weights, and a target date. I am not using the ASM study manual as I have the materials from my class to study, so I am not making use of those columns. The Adapt topic names are very important because with Adapt it is possible to create a quiz over just the topics you are studying. This quizzes are very valuable because, just like an Adapt exam, they permit testing under actual exam conditions.

On Monday I was able to get ahead of schedule and reviewed the material that I was scheduled to study on Monday and Tuesday. This was a good thing, because the rest of the week was full of distractions. On Tuesday I realized that while going through finals and taking my daughter to visit her mother for the summer, I had run out of soda, Monster, and other groceries in the house, so off to Sam’s I went. My pantry was now well stocked, and I was no longer ahead of schedule.

On Wednesday I was able to put in a good day studying, but I wanted to get further. The material, while not difficult, had a lot of details that I needed to make sure I knew. Wednesday I spent quite a bit of time re-familiarizing myself with my BA II Plus calculator by Texas Instruments. I recommend this calculator as it is on the list of permitted calculators for the actual exam. When I was deciding which financial calculator to get, I was torn between this calculator and the professional version. After much debate I decided on this calculator because the online reviews said that the buttons on the professional version were slippery and it was easy to press the wrong button. I would suggest that you do your own research and get the financial calculator that is best for you. It is worth mentioning that you are permitted multiple calculators as long as they are on the list of approved calculators. I will also be using my TI-30XS Multiview that I purchased for Exam P.

The first thing I advise to anyone learning to use their calculator is to practice pressing the little reset button on the back of the calculator and being able to setup the calculator how you like it. The only thing I changed from the factory default is the number of decimal places shown which is done by pressing “2nd” and then the “.” Which is labeled “format” above it and entering the number of decimal places you would like displayed on your calculator. This easily overlooked step is important because on the day of the test, your calculator will be reset at the testing center. The financial functions on the calculator, such as the TVM keys are very important, but those are learned as you learn the material for the exam.

Thursday was completely lost for studying. I had my evaluation with my graduate coordinator on Thursday; I was planning to go to school for a little bit and come home and study. Instead, I went to the gym after my evaluation. Going to the gym in and of itself is very good, the two things I am trying to do this month are learn financial math and get to the gym on a regular basis. At the gym I ran into a fellow student that wanted my help in setting up a summer study schedule as he prepares for the fall semester. I was happy to help him and we ended up going to dinner. It was a great day, but I was not managing my distractions well.

Friday was graduation day. I am not graduating, so it was not my graduation day, but many of my friends received master’s degrees, so I felt I should go to their graduation. It was a great day, but not a lot of studying occurred.

Saturday I was back at the books. Of course I was very off schedule and realized that the scheduler spreadsheet needs a way to enter where you are in your study so it can make a new schedule for your remaining time. I decided to make the best of it and try to get back on schedule. I am sure I could make Excel do this, but since I am already having time management issues, I didn’t.

It is now Sunday and time to reflect on the week. I was able to establish my plan and tie up loose ends from the semester, so those were all good things. On the bad side I see that I still struggle with managing my time. More specifically, I need to manage my distractions better. I needed to go to the grocery and go to school, I didn’t need to stop at happy hour and visit with friends that I had just spent the entire semester with. This is important and is also the issue I face in my classes; I sometimes let distractions get the best of me. The upcoming week will be a much more productive week.