The preparation for UPSC spans a year to year and a half at least. This is a very intensive preparation that requires students to spend anywhere between 6 to 12 hours per day on studying.  This is a very long and intense period of preparation considering most students normally prepare for their exams for a maximum of a couple of months at a stretch.

So the biggest challenge in UPSC, other than the massive syllabus, is the time it takes to prepare for the exams, because it is very difficult to keep your motivation and tempo and focus up and steady for 1.5 years.

So what do you have to do to keep yourself at the high level of enthusiasm and motivation with which you started your preparation? Let’s read on.

1. Take one day at a time

You have to have a study plan and a timetable. Markdown the study plan and take each day as it comes. Markdown the to-do list for each day and complete those task by task, day by day. Break down the entire preparation into achievable chunks rather than a mammoth of an ordeal. Complete the tasks and take it one day at a time. Remember that even when climbing the Everest, mountaineers only think about the next step and the next day.

2. Motivate yourself

It is only you who can really push you and only you who can let yourself go. Irrespective of what others might say, you will have to be receptive to inspiration and motivation and finally pull yourself up and do the hard work.

3. Write down your strengths

Know your strengths and write them down. Hone those skills, work on sharpening those skills. If you are a good speaker or a good writer, remind yourself that you have a good chance because of your skills. Also, work on these skills to sharpen them with respect to the UPSC preparation.

4. Track how far you have come

Track your progress with the help of your study plan and take a moment to see how far you have progressed since you started preparing. This is a sure shot motivation to keep going further.

5. Take breaks

Take breaks that are refreshing and that can really rejuvenate you. Do something that really charges you up, preferably something that takes you away from the study environment like playing a game of cricket or football or even going for a simple walk. A change in the environment really makes studying easier with a fresh mind. Keep a schedule for breaks every day so that you do not suffer a mental burnout. Remember 1 hour’s study with a fresh mind is 10 times more effective than a dull mind trying to cram more information.

6. Expect problems and disappointments

Expect hurdles and problems in your preparation. Whether it is a “low” day when you can’t get much done or it is unforeseen circumstances that stop you from studying. However, make sure that these days are more the exception rather than the norm. Be in control of how many days you are losing though and definitely don’t let it derail your preparation.

7. Be wary of boredom

Understand which topics you like and which topics bore you. Try different approaches for the topics you don’t like and try to finish them off when your energy is the highest (for some it is early in the morning, for some late at night). Also try different approaches like watching videos instead of reading for those topics, but remember note making is much more important for the topics that don’t interest you. Making notes ensures that you are really focused on the text or video rather than just passively reading or watching.

8. Don’t forget to enjoy a little

Enjoy during your breaks, but more importantly try to enjoy what you are learning. Be curious, and open your mind to the subject and its nuances. Try to choose subjects that genuinely interest you and study those subjects when you are at your lowest energy levels. That will make your interest level go up and make your study time productive. So yes, enjoy your study and enjoy during your breaks.

9. Surround yourself with the right people

It is important to surround yourself with the right people. First of all, stay away from negative people. Build a network of peers and mentors who really want you to succeed. Have a few mentors and go back to them when you feel de-motivated or are confused.

10. Stay Healthy

Exercise regularly and stay healthy. Don’t compromise on your health because an unhealthy body will not cooperate with you on the day of the exam or during your preparations.

11. Imagine yourself as a successful officer

This is called the power of positive thinking. Visualize yourself as a successful officer and life will bring you to that reality.

12. Maintain a supportive environment

Make your study room the ideal place for you to study with minimum distractions. Keep the room fresh and tidy and keep your notes and books organized. Also, try to pin up important notes on the walls so you can look at them any time you want to revise.

Also, be aware of the larger environment of your house. Make sure that it isn’t hampering your preparation in any way.

13. Be grateful

It has been seen that being grateful is the biggest reason behind being happy, or in other words, being grateful makes you happy. So be grateful for your little achievements and your privileges.

14. Seek Inspiration in Great Personalities

Read about great personalities and seek inspiration through their lives. This is a good way to see how people overcame huge hurdles to become successful. It also brings our own struggles into perspective.

15. Remember why you want to be a Public Service Officer

And last, but a very important thing to do is remember why you want to be a public officer in the first place. Is it to serve your country, or bring sweeping changes in the system? Do you want to make a difference to the poorest of the poor or the downtrodden through your service? What is it that exactly motivates you? Write it out and keep it somewhere prominent where you can see it daily. Revisit it when you feel like giving up and that will make you bounce back into the game.

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About the Author

Payal Ghosh

Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further.

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