Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
We Share our Top Tips to Achieve Balance
Maintaining a balance between your FRM preparation efforts, work, and family can be your key to a happy and fulfilling life.
As much as you seek a higher compensation through career advancement programs, you also need to keep earning money to sustain your various family efforts.
Then again, as a social being, you need to spend quality time with your family and friends.
Among most professional certifications and degree programs, the Financial Risk Manager program by the Global Association of Risk Professionals affords candidates the best shot at a fulfilling career and a reasonably-balanced life.
Here are tips on how to keep things balanced when pursuing your certification.
1. Build a reliable support network
The pressure of work and family can be extremely taxing for most people. On top of that, add the studies and the anxiety race for the examinations.
There are many books to read, mock tests to sit for and study groups to attend.
Without a proper network, all that could be overwhelming. The right support network comprises of family, friends and colleagues who will lift you in your lowest moments.
These people will understand your time constraints and will be ready to offer any help to see you through the program.
2. Create a balanced schedule
Create a weekly planner to get an idea of everything that you need to accomplish within your efforts. Mark your calendars, designating time for studies, family, work projects and social life.
A schedule will help you with your time management so that no aspect of your life is life behind. With a proper plan, you will be able go through all your materials and still have quality time with family and friends after work.
3. Outline your workload
Among the tricks for reviewing all your materials in the shortest time is skimming through all the books to find out what the topics entail in summary-format.
You can then prioritize how much time to spend on each item, making for an efficient preparation structure. The same applies to your work and family responsibilities.
Find out in advance what you will be doing a few days (or better yet, weeks) from now so that you can plan and allocate your time well.
4. Flexibility is a needed virtue
Professional and personal life appointments and responsibilities can change on short notice. On top of that, you will have your level 1 or level 2 studies needing your full attention.
However, we find that the most successful students have one trait in common; they are highly adaptable to new circumstances.
For instance, a ‘staycation’ could substitute that weekend getaway that you couldn’t go to with your partner.
5. Have some ‘me’ time
If you are already working in the financial sector, you probably already have a lot of pressure from your boss, or from tight deadlines that need to be met.
Preparation can also cause a lot of anxiety, especially when the exam day is fast approaching. Despite all that, the most important thing to do is to take care of you.
Find time to relax and de-stress. Mediation, yoga, prayer, exercise…find anything that can help.
Sometimes, actually taking a little time off from everything helps to put things into perspective. You will gain a peace of mind that will ultimately benefit your work, family, and studies in significant ways.
For sustained motivation on all fronts of life, proper relaxation is a must.
6. Preparation mixed with a positive vibe
The Financial Risk Manager program can seem like a ruthless test on your limits, but it’s only for a short time.
It’s true, you will have to read for long hours and spend less time with friends and family, but it is only temporary. And the reward at the end is amazing.
At the end of it, the FRM certification is a big step in advancing your career, earning a higher salary and getting promotions.
Be positive. Let these goals motivate you to make necessary adjustments in your life for that brighter future.
7. Avoid procrastination
One great way to avoid procrastination is by creating a schedule for work, study and social life. Mark each day with all the activities that you plan to do and ensure that you keep your appointments.
The schedules will you help become organized, and they will hold you accountable for your outcomes.
Over time, you will build the self-discipline to keep things in good progress in every aspect of your life.
8. Don’t multitask
Multitasking takes up much more time and energy than prioritizing. Science has proven that multitasking can be ineffective and possibly, just an illusion.
If you are studying and talking to friends on social media, for instance, you will end up doing more of one thing than the other. The best way to maintain focus in your life is to do one thing at a time.
Set aside time for uninterrupted study, at least one hour each day. After that, you can attend to your family and social needs.
Several studies show just how multitasking is a myth. It not only leads to mediocre results in whatever tasks you are doing because of your divided attention, but also wastes time.
As you shift attention from your studies to reply to a text message, for instance, it will take you 20 minutes to regain your focus when you switch back from the phone to your books.
Stay focused and complete one thing at a time.
Speed and effectiveness can help to ensure that the program doesn’t upset your life excessively. There are many strategies to review your materials faster and remember everything you have learned.
Among them include skimming through the whole books, taking note of headings, subheadings bulleted points. That will give you a footing into the subject matter before you can delve into the explanations.
You can also adopt the ‘fast scanning’ method in which you fish only relevant information from the filler chunks of text in your materials. To be a fast learner, you have to be a fast reader.
When it comes to your content, you can implement a selective reading strategy to learn all the main points in each topic. Some concepts will be self-explanatory once you acquaint yourself with the main concepts.
Other ways to read faster include minimizing distractions, making notes (with a pencil) on the textbook (as opposed to your notebook) and setting goals for each topic before you start to read.
10. Be a creature of habit
Impulsive decisions can upset the balance in your life. For instance, you cannot suddenly decide to forfeit a family or study date and decide to go out with friends.
Something like that will create a time deficit that will increase the pressure in your life.
Endeavor to stick to your schedule and to do everything consistently.
Research shows that if you study at the same time every day, your brain becomes more receptive at that particular time of day.
You will, therefore, gain more from your study session because you are psychologically ready to learn at that hour.
Inconsistent routines are generally hard to follow.
11. Stay healthy
Work, study and family engagements can take up all of your energy. You need to have the stamina to keep going, and for that, you need a proper diet and regular exercise.
Trust us; you don’t want to be ill while taking the Financial Risk Manager examinations. Such down-times will also have a negative impact on your work and family.
To stay strong, adopt a healthy routine that includes a balanced diet and daily exercise. Proper food and workout can also help with memory.
Regular workouts help to minimize your stress levels and to increase oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain.
Research shows that a prolonged period of regular exercises can enlarge the brain regions tasked with memory and thinking.
12. Adopt a clutter-free world
The clutter might be on your schedule, at your desk at work or your study room at home. Clutter, in this case, would involve unimportant things that you don’t need.
On your schedule, trivial errands, for instance, can make your day seem hectic when it’s not the case.
Such clutter often births confusion and lethargy. Ask your friends or family to help you with small things at work or at home. Your study environments also need to be clutter free during your preparation period.
Remove old books and papers that you are done with and everything else that makes your study space uncomfortable.
It’s common for learners to lose their reading appetite if there are countless books sprawled over their desks.
When studying for your exams, de-clutter your environment, and leave just one or two books that you will be studying on that particular day.
13. Be resolute when it comes to your time
Many temptations will come your way when you decide to stick to a schedule. Friends and family engagements will always try to eat into your study time. That’s just how it is for many of us.
If it’s not the right time to go out with friends or play with your children, you will have to say no and stick it. Create time for everything and set limits.
Let your friends and family know which days or hours you are available and which you have dedicated to your studies.
Informing them in advance about your time constraints will help you maintain a healthy relationship even as you pursue being a certified FRM.
14. Come home a relaxed person
After your daily 9-to-5 and additional one or two hours of intense training, you will likely be super exhausted by the time you get home. Take 15 minutes or so to get a relaxing bath before you sit down with your family.
Unhappiness is contagious and you will pass it on to your spouse or children if you come home lamenting about what a tiring day it’s been.
However, if you seem relaxed and happy, they will be happy too and take everything in stride even if they only get 30 minutes with you every evening.
15. Make dinner a routine with your family
After an intensive day of work and studying, bonding with your family and having a dinner time is an ideal opportunity to set things right.
However, if by the time you get home it’s late and your family has already dined, make a habit of sitting down with them and enjoying a snack, chatting or watching a TV episode before bedtime.
Talk to them about your day, the exciting things you have done or people you have met and let them talk about their day too.
Such sessions are not only enjoyable but they can also be a source of motivation for success in your course.
16. Work on something together
You don’t need to fly off to a Caribbean island to make your family happy. Children and spouses will enjoy being around you every day.
They will appreciate the time, especially knowing that you have to deal with work and studies each day.
You can, therefore, strengthen the bond between you and your family by doing ‘small’ things together. This could be grocery shopping, cooking or gardening.
These relaxing activities will also improve your brain’s processing power when you sit down to study the next session.
17. Tap into your professional networks
When juggling work and family it can be challenging to meet new friends, except for the ones in your professional circle.
These persons can be a great way at having a social life because, unlike other friends, their schedules mostly align well with yours.
Your colleagues and other professionals in your network are also the best people to talk to when you need advice or alternate opinions.
18. Have a bedtime routine for your kids
If it so happens that you get home early in the evenings, one way to bond with your children is helping them to bed each night.
The routine, in this case, may include reading them a bedtime story. This quiet company is right for your children. After they fall asleep, you can then review your materials for an hour or so before you retire to bed.
19 Have a special night
Designate at least one night a week to do nothing but spend quality time with your family. It could be on a weekend when you decide to have a movie night with your whole family or a game night with your kids.
Your family will greatly appreciate such nights when you pause everything else for them.
The FRM program is a great ticket to a successful profession in the field of finance…once your prepare adequately.
It won’t be worth much if it causes too much strain on your relationships or deteriorates your performance at work. Use the above tips to keep everything balanced.
All the best,
The QuestionBank Family