Just thinking about exams is stressful, but undergoing all the preparation leading up to the PMP Exam takes it to a whole new anxiety level. Dealing with this stress and turning it into a positive and not a negative is tricky. But being able to do that will not only allow you to reduce your anxiety and make the process enjoyable (as much it can be) but it will also enable you to concentrate on the learning aspects, on your long-term career, and on excelling in your daily work.
Below are some key pointers on what you should do and what you should avoid doing to proactively manage your PMP exam stress.
What To Do:
1. Get organized and make a plan.
As you prepare and study for the PMP certification exam, make sure you have everything you need and understand what is required. This will eliminate the added stress of any last minute rushing and showing up unprepared. Put together a game plan on how you are going to tackle the exam. Consider a 3-month study plan instead of a 3-week one. This will reduce your stress drastically. Also Devise what approach you are going to take when answering the questions. the amount of time you will spend on each section or answer, and what you do when you encounter a question you don’t know the answer to.
2. Relax and stay focused.
Find ways to mentally relax and take a break from the studying. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Keep a positive frame of mind and de-stress occasionaly.
3. Nourish your body.
It is important to keep yourself healthy, well nourished and well rested during this process. This will help keep your body in prime condition and mentally strong. Pushing yourself, lack of sleep and relying on too much caffeine or other stimulants isn’t a good practice. You will crash, burn out and likely underperform. Setting aside some time to exercise will help clear your mind and is a great stress reliever.
4. Have a positive support system.
Surround yourself with positive influences, both personally and professionally. If you find you are struggling, ask for help or guidance. There are lots of sources. Utilize your instructors or on-line blogs and social networks. Join a study group or form your own. Professional mentors, if available within your organization can also be valuable.
5. Stick to your goals and objectives.
It is easy to get caught up in excelling to the next level. But, it is important to just keep yourself focused on just this task. Don’t gear yourself up and put added pressure on what you need or want to accomplish after the exam. Think about that after, not before. If you do, you are wasting your valuable time and you might not do as well, which will just lead to disappointment.
What Not To Do:
Many people deal with stress by avoiding the situation until the very last minute. In regards to preparing for the PMP exam, this is not a great way to deal with the stress. Don’t ignore it by avoiding it and procrastinating. Face it head on and start preparing.
2. Negative self doubts.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you hit a rough patch. This is just going to increase your stress level and lower your motivation. Get back on track, refocus, and stay positive.
3. Total seclusion.
In an effort to keep focused, many will force themselves to lock themselves away and be in total seclusion from their normal daily life. Don’t do this. This will lead to burn-out. It is better to find a balance. It is important to take breaks to mentally rejuvenate yourself and allow your brain to digest all the information.
Don’t get caught up in a competition with your other colleagues, classmates or others that you know who have taken the exam before. Focus on doing your best, not in doing better than them. It is good to be motivated, but not so much that it puts additional unnecessary stress on yourself.
5. Comply with others’ expectations.
Don’t listen to unfounded rumors and don’t let others’ expectations put additional pressure on you. The situation is stressful enough without adding additional layers of others influences cloud your mind. Accomplish what you want to accomplish. If you are happy with what you’re doing, those around you who are important to you will also be happy for you.