One of the most repetitive questions asked in the UPSC community is whether a full time working person dedicatedly prepares for the UPSC exam? Or does he need to leave his job and prepare?
Now, since the eligibility criteria for IAS is minimum 21 years of age, a lot of IAS aspirants are working professionals trying to balance their studies along with their work. If you are a working professional then the preparation you need to have will be quite different and in-fact more meticulous.
A working person does not have the luxury of dedicating 15 hours a day to UPSC exam preparation. Nor is it required, what is required is to be selective in studying and focusing on quality rather than quantity of study. Read on to know how to start preparing for UPSC? And also get a clear idea about when to start preparing for UPSC?
How to Study for UPSC?
Make the Best Use of Time
As a working person, your job is probably taking 8 -10 hours of your day leaving you with very little time to study with concentration. However, quitting the job is not the answer you should be looking for.
Time is a luxury so use it efficiently, try waking up as soon as possible and give 2 hours before you go for your work. A two hours morning session is extremely efficient.
Even during office hours try reading as much as possible, read about current affairs, news and gather this information whenever you get free time. You should not waste a single minute gossiping in cafeterias. Revise your learning during lunch breaks and make it a habit to study after work.
Study While You Moving
Make use of commutation and invest in a tablet to study while you move. Formulate a strategy and devise a plan, follow that plan faithfully. Pick a time slot during the evening and invest 2-3 hours for studying and the schedule should be as clear as possible.
Also, try not to multitask your work and your studies since they might get into each other’s way. It is always better to follow your plan.
Proper Study Material
Since your time is precious enough to not waste in studying materials that hold no value, you would also be needing concise material for each and every subject that you can study whenever and wherever you want. A lot of test papers are available which you can use and can always help you check your growth. NCERT books are also a good source of information for UPSC exam preparation.
UPSC does not check knowledge itself alone. This 1-year preparation tests your mental strength also. Full-timers have more stress when compared to working professionals. Many buckle under pressure before Prelims or Mains or Interview. Whereas working professionals are comparatively less stressed because they have a fallback option.
Full-timers after 25 years of age will have tremendous societal pressure in a country like India and that stresses the candidates like anything. Stress is one of the major barriers for success in Prelims, Mains or Interview.
As an IPS/ IAS officer, you are expected to be cool despite pressure from multiple corners. So this examination process implicitly tests your stress management during Prelims and Mains, and explicitly during Interview, So working professionals have this advantage because they are comparatively less stressed.
When to Start Preparing for UPSC?
Working professions should start with ample time as they might not be able to dedicate a lot of time in their preparation process.
Do More in Less Time
Time is a luxury for working IAS aspirants and if you read Tim Ferris’s excellent book The Four Hour Work Week, he speaks of the 80/ 20 principle which states that we get 80 per cent of the work done in 20 per cent of the time, the rest is usually wasted.
You can use this principle to bring an effect to your IAS preparation. Focus on getting the maximum done in the least amount of time. For this, you will need to prepare a list of things to study, the most important first.
Then assign just enough time or slightly less to cover these topics but not too less as this will put undue pressure on you. You will feel an urgency to cover the chosen topics as compared to studying without proper planning or strategy.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the question of will and dedication— if you are prepared to do what it takes, burn down the midnight oil and stay motivated to clear your hurdles.