When continuing your education as an accountant or finance professional, you generally have two options: live courses (usually webinars) or self-study. Deciding which type of course to choose depends on several factors: your preferences, timeline and personal schedule, and each choice has its list of pros and cons.
For example, self-study is highly flexible and can be completed at your own pace. However, if you’ve selected this option, you’ll soon find that studying independently comes with challenges. After all, it can be hard to stay motivated without external class dates, group discussions or deadlines. In this post, we’ll share some tips for study motivation you can use throughout your continuing professional education (CPE) journey.
5 tips to stay motivated with self-study CPE courses
5. Set clear goals
Without tests to take, homework to send in or an instructor to impress, you may struggle to stay on track with your CPE studies. It’s only natural to start with the best intentions of sticking to your goals but lose motivation over time. That’s why setting clear goals is so important for self-study.
So, what should these goals be? Consider your objectives for taking this course. Is it to achieve a certification by a specific date? If so, create a study plan with that date as your goal and work backward to set key study milestones. Do you want to master a specific subject matter? Break that material into digestible sections and create a schedule for understanding that information.
Because you’re in charge of your studies, your goals will be unique to your situation, schedule and preferences. Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. That means being as detailed as possible and establishing hard deadlines.
When you do reach one of your goals, be sure to celebrate. Otherwise, you won’t have much study motivation. Do something you enjoy, take a well-deserved break or buy a small reward to mark your progress.
4. Match your course to your interests
Staying motivated is usually a losing battle if you find the subject matter you’re covering boring or useless. If you’re required to take a CPE course and can select the topic, choose one that you find interesting or that relates to your current (or future) professional goals. That’s not to say you won’t ever experience boredom or lack of drive during your studies, but it will at least keep both to a minimum. You’ll also be more likely to retain the information if you plan to use it in your day-to-day work.
3. Establish a routine
The best way to ensure that you’ll study is to make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. You could start each morning with 15-30 minutes of dedicated study time to get yourself off on the right foot, then schedule an hour or two of study for later in the day. You could take a day-on, day-off approach, with longer study sessions every other day.
The specifics are up to you, but you’ll need to demonstrate considerable self-discipline. Create calendar blocks for your study sessions and your regular daily activities like meetings, exercise and family time. You’ll want your study schedule to be flexible enough that it doesn’t set you up for failure but is structured enough to keep you on track. As you build your study habit, you’ll find it easier to stick to your goals.
2. Set up a dedicated study space
A big part of study success is getting into the right mindset: focused, prepared and ready to be productive. To help create that feeling, we recommend setting up a dedicated study area. This can be an entire room, such as a home office, a single seat in your living or dining room, or a favorite spot in your local cafe. All that matters is that the space is just for studying. This area should be comfortable and free of distractions. For some, that might mean total silence. For others, it might mean white noise or background conversation. However, be sure to silence all unnecessary notifications in this space and consider temporarily blocking social media, too.
1. Know your learning style and study preferences
When it comes to self-study, you want to set yourself up for success as much as possible. That means not going against your natural inclinations and preferences. For instance, don’t schedule a 6 a.m. study session if you’re not a morning person or set a long working block if your attention span tends to be short. Also, consider your learning style. Understanding your personal learning strengths is critical to determining how to motivate yourself to study and be successful.
Surgent’s self-study CPE courses set you up for success
By working with Surgent, you’ll get access to some of the highest-quality and diverse course options on the market. Surgent is a leader in continuing professional education (CPE) for accounting and financial professionals. We have an entire library of self-study courses and accounting exam prep programs for several core credentials.
If live CPE is more your speed, we also offer in-person and virtual in-firm training, as well as more than 1,500 CPE webinars each year.
Meet your CPE requirements with confidence
With the five tips above, you’ll stay on track as you complete your required CPE hours at your pace and on your schedule. Find the right course for you by browsing our extensive continuing professional education course catalog.