January 5, 2022

How To Study for a Tech Certification as an Adult - Ep. 26

How To Study for a Tech Certification as an Adult and Get Hired for a Tech Role

Here's What You Should Do To Ace That Exam

Are you studying for a tech certification exam? Learn tips and strategies that we used to pass our certification exams and get hired for a tech role!
Welcome to Degree Free, where we explain what you can do instead of going to college, and how to teach yourself, get work, and make good money.
In this episode, we talk about:
  • How to set routines and habits as an adult to effectively study for a certification exam.
  • Why you don't have to know everything when studying for a tech certification exam.
  • Tips and tricks on how to maintain focus while studying and how to research for an exam so that you can improve your chances of passing.
Ryan talks about Parkinson’s law and the importance of self-imposed deadlines.
Hannah also talks about how colleges can’t keep up with the industry and how certifications solve that problem.

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Ryan: Aloha guys and welcome back to degree free. We are your hosts, Ryan and Hannah Maruyama on this podcast, we share fundamentals we've discovered and the mistakes we've made while self-educating, getting work, building businesses and making money. We'll tell you how to make it happen. No degree needed.

Hannah: Welcome back folks. We are happy to have you once again, this week on the podcast. What we want you to do this week is go and run to the website. Don't walk, run to the website, which is degreefreenetwork.com and sign up for our newsletter. We are really excited about it. It's got some super cool stuff in there.

We do degree free news. So basically you can find out what companies are hiring for degree free jobs, different types of apprenticeship opportunities, resources that Ryan and I are using really awesome books. Different types of tech jobs and certifications that we see on the horizon. You are not going to want to miss that a lot of really cool stuff in there.

Make sure to like, and subscribe to the podcast as well. We really appreciate your support. And again, like I said, if you want to sign up for the newsletter degreefreenetwork.com. Run don't walk.

Ryan: Yeah. Let's get into it before we get into it we are still on the backup equipment, so it's going to sound different, look different, but here we are trying to make sure that we don't miss episodes and try to get you all this information.

Today we are going to be talking about how to study for tech certifications It's one of the things that is difficult or we found difficult, especially since you and I have not been students for years, at least not student in a traditional sense. Like we were studying for a test supposedly tested our knowledge

and aptitude.

Hannah: And I was a terrible student when I was a student.

So it was also difficult for me to figure out how to study again. As an adult, who'd been out of the, like you said, traditional student environment for a really long time. And then when I was in it, I was not a good one. It definitely, has its challenges as we found out.

Ryan: Yeah. This isn't necessarily just tech certifications, quote, unquote.

It's pretty much any certification that you have to. Study a lot of material for it can be,

Hannah: Real estate insurance.

Ryan: Exactly. And it can be an EMT certification or something of that something like that. If you're studying for a firefighter exam, something like that, studying

Hannah: for your hairstylist boards, because they have to take, they have to take fairly labor-intensive exams too.

Ryan: But yeah. It's something that you and I both have experienced with especially. Tech certifications, but I've also studied for firefighter exams, EMT exams, things of that nature. And yeah, it doesn't come naturally. It's something that definitely takes some practice, but once you get the routine down, the study habits are the same for everything.

Just get the good habits down and you can do it for any certification.

Hannah: And then once you have, something set to that, you've realized works for you, you've tweaked it. Then you'll notice that when you're studying for something else and you start to implement these things again, you just naturally know, okay, we're in study mode now.

And you can focus. And I do think that just having the physical habits really, helps too.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. So I guess one of the very first things is, when you're studying for certification. One of the things that we found is very helpful is to tell people in your life. And I think it really makes most sense to at least tell the person that you live with.


Hannah: because you're going to be acting like a freak for the next month.

Ryan: So,

whether or not that's your wife and possibly kids, or if it's your parents or if it's your roommate you're gonna have some weird habits or not weird, but just different than normal life on. Making them aware of that is the first step.

Hannah: It's almost getting them to. I find too that more than just telling them, ask them to help you maintain your habits, because you're getting them to opt in to helping you to, as opposed to saying, I'm going to be doing these things, leave me alone instead, say, I need your help so that I can focus so that I can achieve this thing.

And then people tend to, most people tend to get on your side when you ask them that way.

Ryan: Yeah, and it, and help doesn't have to be like, it can be as detailed as helping you drill flashcards or helping you to understand the concept, but it could be as simple as when my room is when my room door is closed, please don't bother me. It can be as simple as like for the next X amount of days, I'm not going to be drinking. So please don't ask. And that those little things can really help just getting that little support because these tests are very lonely.

Hannah: Yeah. They really are.

Ryan: Yeah. There's only one person doing it.

A little bit of help wherever he can get it is huge. Just that little support to know that you're not alone. I think that's the first step.

Hannah: Yeah I would definitely, agree. I would definitely agree with that and that this kind of plays into the next point, which is the making of a schedule of some kind because if you're going to make a schedule and you live with other people, Or even if you don't, you're still gonna need people to opt in to respecting the schedule that you're going to temporarily be keeping until you've achieved your goal.

And that's going to be huge too. Like when I was studying I couldn't have done it, if you hadn't been like behind me basically making sure that when I said, oh, I need to do this. And you're like, okay. And having that, silence and that time, and having that kept to that schedule because the other person who was involved in the area I was using was respecting the schedule I was keeping.

Ryan: Yeah. And the schedule can be like, it should be the same every day. Ideally you have a lot of time to study and therefore you can schedule it in almost every day and you can keep that momentum going. But even if you are working and you, or you are also going to school or whatever, it is that you're doing, taking care of the kids, you can.

It's still make a schedule around those things, Tuesdays and Thursdays, after four o'clock to nine o'clock I'm going to study, or from four to six, if you don't have that much time I'm going to study. I think that those having that routine is really gonna, is really gonna help.

Hannah: I do see a lot of people when I say that they're oh I don't have time.

Then that's the classic, right? Oh, I don't have time. But then I look at they'll say, oh, I'm a student. I don't have time. Yes you do. Yes. You do need to make time. That's what it is. And I think people. It's probably good to lay this down to right here, which is just to say, if you need to get the certification or you really want to get the certification, you are going to have to temporarily give up other things in order to carve out the time that you need in order to study and achieve these things.

It's temporary. You don't have to do it forever. You only have to do it until you achieve your goal. And so that, I found to be really motivating too, because I wanted to get through the studying so that I could be done doing the studying. So yeah, if that means that you have to come home from work at five and you have to study until six o'clock every night if you put aside one hour, a day to study but that's all you can do then do that. If you need to wake up earlier so you can study, and then when you get home, you study some more cause you want to put in four hours a day. That's what you gotta do.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. It's definitely having that mentality of making time to do something is definitely what's going to is definitely what helped us in studying for these types of certifications.

I think the next thing that I wanted to bring up is, you have to have an idea of how long it's going to take you to study for this certification, for this exam.

Hannah: Self-imposed or otherwise.

Ryan: Yeah. And every exam is different and there's a different level of difficulty to each, and so some are going to be easier than others and some are going to be harder than others.

That's just the nature of it. What is your job to do is in the beginning is find a reference point of how long it should take you to complete this exam. And how are you going to do that? Okay. One of the, one of the easiest ways to do it is a lot of these exams give you a rough guideline or an outline of how long it takes you to study for it.

The reason why a lot of these exams at least give you an outline of it is because they want you to pass it. They want you to pay to take it, and they want you to pass.

Hannah: Most of, if you're looking at tech certifications, especially most of them have an estimate, a time estimate attached to them, if not all. They are time box because they've measured out how long it would take the average person to complete different modules or different pathways in their tech and their tech pathways.

So Salesforce or Microsoft Azure, they it'll tell you how long. Even if you do like any of the growth, Google certifications, it'll tell you it's. The average person passes this in three months, but what all say and, maybe the average person does, but from what I've seen on from our TikTok audience, and just in general, I would say that the moat, the motivated average person, it takes about a month or so or less.

A lot of people are passing these certifications with four within 45 days, because they're just buckling down and making the time to study. And I think there is a direct correlation in how much you prioritize that time and that study habit and how quickly you can achieve the certification, regardless of like how technical you are or how good of a student you are.

And I'm basing that partially too on my experience, which I was neither of those things. And I did it in 30 days, in 31 days. And I'm like, if I can do it, anybody can do this. Anybody can do this.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely.

Hannah: And you saw it up close too, it was like, yeah, if I can do this, anybody can.

Ryan: Yeah.

And like I said, it depends on how difficult the exams are, but generally speaking the, what I was going to say next was that the advertised time is usually a lot more than what you need. If it says six months, you might be able to do it in a month. You might be able to do it in two months.

And another resource that is super helpful is Reddit. You, and I are always you and I are always on and on about Reddit, but there are a lot of different subreddits and different communities in there where you can find support and ask questions about specific certifications and exams that you're taking. The subreddits have very detailed explanations of how these people passed and studied for their exam.

And they're just trying to pay it forward to the community that helped them. And yeah, like I said, If to get a better real world timeframe, facebook groups and subreddits are definitely the place to go, to look for.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I think one, one question that I get most frequently about is how do I find, how do I find things on Reddit?

And I'm about to tell you, and it really is this simple, it's Google your question. And how can I pass the CISP exam? And then the word, Reddit at the end of it. It is that simple. And it will show you different subreddits where it's being talked about. So in the results, go click on all of them, read two to three pages deep in Google, and you will find, you will find people who are doing exactly what you're doing on there. And a lot of people are like, "oh like, how do I know, but how do I find?" that's how Google, what you're doing and then the word Reddit at the end of the phrase, and it will show you, it will show you where to go. It'll show you what to read and different resources.

And that's how you, that's, how you find those subreddits. That's how you find them. You don't necessarily have to go in, Reddit and look it up. Use Google, ask the question, because also if you're if you're taking a specific certification, the things that might pop up around that also might be valuable to you too, the other search results in that specific question.

Ryan: And then the last thing that I like to do at this point before we get into the actual study habits is I like to schedule the test, and that is just so that we give ourselves a timeline and it's going to, it's a self-imposed due date that we have to abide by now. And a lot of these tests, they have reschedule, like parameters you can reschedule before 48 hours.

So if something comes up, you can reschedule it. That being said, at least you have something in your date book that says, okay, I'm going to get this done and now the clock is ticking and you have to study for it.

Hannah: Self-imposed deadlines. When you are being a self study student are absolutely necessary. You need them because otherwise there's no goal.

And whether you're goal oriented or not, and I'm not really a goal oriented person, but I needed that test scheduled to really kick it into gear. And I think a lot of people do, especially if you're not used to having a, oh I have to, get this done by this date because this thing is going to happen and that's why it has to be done and having a limit a time limit of, okay this has to be done by this time is really, useful. If you're trying to motivate yourself to study for something.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely.

Hannah: Necessary. Maybe.

Ryan: Yeah. It's one of those things that Parkinson's law, I think I've talked about before, but like the amount of work inflates to fit in the time allotted for it.

So basically procrastination. So people are just going to procrastinate if you don't schedule it. You're just going to procrastinate and procrastinate while I don't know about you, but me personally, if I don't schedule it, it's never going to get done.

Hannah: I think there's a confidence thing too. Especially if you're a degree free and you're studying for one of these certifications and you I, say this a lot to people, but I think this is really important to you're studying to pass the test.

You are not studying to know everything about everything. You are studying. All you have to do is study enough to pass the test and then getting a job is going to teach you everything you need to know about doing the thing. So it's important I think too, for people to understand that. You don't need to study until you feel ready to do the job you need to study until you feel ready to pass the exam.

Those are two very separate things, especially if the way they're scoring the exam is by 70% like it's a 70% pass rate. You do not need to know everything about everything. You need to know, 70% of this exam in order to achieve this thing. And that is the, as Tim Ferris says the minimum effective dose to accomplish something you need to do enough to pass the thing.

You do not need to do everything that you would need to do in the job. In order to pass the exam. And I think for a lot of people who are new to trying this type of thing or to making a move like this, it's difficult to get the confidence to schedule the exam before they feel like they know everything.

Cause that's the question I get a lot is like when do I schedule the exam? Because people are, they feel like they want to wait until they know everything. But they're not focused on the exam. They're focused on the knowledge and that's the wrong thing for passing the exam.

Ryan: All right. And then, so after you've done those four things, the next is just going to be doing it every day, studying, and these are some habits or some things that you and I, when we're studying for these different types of tests that we do.

And the first thing is going to be super simple. It's putting your phone away and usually what that looks like for you and I is putting it in a different room.

Hannah: Actually, I have a cigar box that I put it in and I close the lid and that's just mentally like putting lid on the phone or whatever is on the phone and whoever's on the phone.

Ryan: That's a good, that's a good little method, for me, I just put it in another room and I forgot about it. It's not a big deal, but yeah, if you need something like that, definitely put it in a Tupperware container or whatever, put it in your dryer, or,

Hannah: That seems risky. You could put it in your freezer if you want, but I can't recommend I can't say what may occur as a result of that.

Ryan: Throw it in your fireplace.

Hannah: Just toss it somewhere, somewhere where you won't remember to find it so that you forget where it is.

Ryan: In your yard.

Put it in a time capsule.

Hannah: Tell your spouse to put it somewhere and then draw you a map so that you have to ask for it. If you want to go find your phone, we're done.

Ryan: But yeah. So putting your phone away for the duration of your study, I found for the duration of my study is the most effective for me because of what I said before, which is I'm a procrastinator and I have very little self-discipline and I know that, and as long as I know that I I can find ways around it. So what I mean by for the whole duration of your study period, is if I was, if I'm supposed to study for four hours, I don't look at it for the entire four hours.

Even with breaks.

Hannah: Yeah. If you come out to eat a snack or do whatever, or just you come out to waste time, you're not wasting it on your phone. Cause it'll suck you in.

Ryan: Right. And if you're, or if you're using the restroom instead of, oh, I'm just going to grab my phone because that's what you normally do. I would, I normally take my flashcards with me and I do study I'm while I'm using the restroom, I know that's a big one for a lot of people. For me, for a lot of people, but for me too, and I'll find oh my, my break is only supposed to be 15 minutes and. 45 minutes later, I'm still on the toilet, like cruising YouTube or scrolling Reddit.

What the hell?

Hannah: How did I get here?

Ryan: Exactly. And I'll an extra half an hour of my study time is gone.

Hannah: And then your, concentration is all busted up too. So that it put it away. Don't touch it till you're done, and I know that everybody's got a hundred thousand reasons why they need their phone.

No, you don't. No, you don't. Put it away for a couple hours. Work it out with somebody else figure out how to make it happen, but put it away. It really is key to concentrating and to training yourself how, on how to concentrate again, because you haven't been doing it for a really long time.

Most people don't sit down and study for that amount of time when they're grown people, they just don't do it. So you have to, do it so you can teach yourself how to focus again.

Ryan: I think also with this, the next thing is going to be. Having a routine, and this is going to be from when you wake up, especially if you're studying, like it's a weekend and you have from nine o'clock in the morning to three o'clock in the afternoon, and you have nothing else to do.

Having a routine in all senses of the word really helps. So that's gonna be having a morning routine if that's whatever working out, meditating, yoga, anything.

Hannah: Yeah, whatever you do in the morning.

Ryan: Do the morning routine. What helps us is eating the same thing so that we don't have to think about it, so we just have whatever the breakfast is, whatever the food is, we just have a bunch of eggs and bacon. Ready to go.

Hannah: Yep.

Ryan: And we just cook it the same way. So it's mindless, you just cook it the same way, eat it. And now you're studying.

Hannah: And lay out your clothes the night before. That really helps too.

Ryan: Yeah. And just having this routine of getting ready. Another thing is getting ready. If you're just going to be at home, still get dressed, that really helps.

Hannah: Okay. I have a weird one here. I found that when I was taking, I studied better in why we don't wear shoes in the house. It's just. It's just not done, but I found that putting shoes on like actual shoes in the house actually really helped me.

I don't know what it was. I don't know because that was and maybe other people who work from home too can relate to this. But I think even like getting dressed down to your shoes, maybe even if it helps you feel like you're clocking in or something like that, whatever you do to go to work however you make yourself feel like you're going to work or you have something serious to do.

Do that, because that, really does help. It sounds dumb, but you know what? We're humans are simple creatures. So put your shoes on. If you think it'll help you focus because you need to employ anything that you have in order to help yourself focus enough to study.

Ryan: Yeah. And I think that having those little tips and tricks to trick yourself is really what this whole thing is about.

We're just trying to trick our brains into being, maybe not happy that we're studying.

Hannah: A little Pavlov's dog trying to condition it to perform the same day every day.

Ryan: And, having that routine in all sense of the word really helps. At least it helps us. Eating the same breakfast, waking up at the same time, doing the same thing in the morning, whatever it is.

If you're religious, read your Bible, if you want to work out whatever, it is.

Hannah: Keep the same routine.

Ryan: Yeah.

Hannah: One thing too. And I think this was, I heard this with I heard this from a copywriting course that I took once, but I thought it was really useful. And one thing that I find too, I have a very difficult time sitting still.

And one of the things that I do as a reflex is I go and I refill a water cup so that I don't have to sit still and study, and so one thing that I would really suggest doing when you go into your place of that you're gonna be studying giant glass of water with you. So you don't have an excuse to leave.

Cause that, really helped me. Cause at least if I did get up, I would just get up and stretch a little bit. And then I would sit back down because I couldn't make the excuse to go to the kitchen to get water because there's water right here. And that's huge. Cause I stayed in the same study space.

So I didn't break my concentration nearly as much.

Ryan: Yeah.

And it's all about minimizing the time away from the desk, but also the mental energy away from the thing that you're studying as well. Now, talking about individual study habits, one of the things that we've found to be really helpful is flashcards.

Hannah: Dude, flashcards are the worst, but they are it's maybe I'm dumb.

It's the only way for me to learn anything.

Ryan: Yeah, and this comes from me personally, that I've, taken as an adult. I've taken a bunch of certifications in different fields of study. So I have taken, I've taken fire-fighting exams, I've taken my eMT exams. And I've recently taken a project management certification exam, and this whole shoe between all of those fields that making flashcards is very, helpful. It's probably the most helpful thing. And I think it has a lot to do, and when we're talking about flashcards, we're talking about physically writing the flashcards on index cards they buy from Walmart or whatever.

Hannah: I don't believe in the printed flashcards. Make those flashcards yourself.

It's the writing. You have to know what the words mean, and if you write down what the word. You know what the words mean?

Ryan: Yeah. It just taking the time to actually write down the definition, write down the word or write down the if it's a system right? Writing down the steps of the system, if it's a picture or if it's a triangle, you have to remember, or something like that, writing down the triangle and just that rote action of putting it down with your own hands physically on paper is huge. I think there was a study about it.

I should look it up, but I think it has a, there is a connection between physical rote writing and typing. I think it just, it uses different parts of your brain.

Hannah: I've heard this too. I've heard this too independent from you, so I'm not sure where it's from, but I believe it. Cause this is this I have, I know what you're talking about.

Ryan: I could be totally full of crap. I don't know.

Hannah: But I feel like I definitely feel like, I feel like I've heard this too though. It's just something about the muscle memory of writing it down.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And this is evident for me from a kid time because when I was a kid, I used to make like cheat sheets so that I could like, so if we had a vocabulary test, and yeah, so this is terrible.

Hannah: This is terrible.

Ryan: But if I, if we had a vocabulary test in school, I would make really small cheat sheets and I would write them, write down the word and the definition really tiny. And then on a piece of folder paper at the top of the corner, and then I would rip it and then I would put in my pocket for the test, but I literally never used it because,

Hannah: After you wrote it down, you remembered it.

And if you would just put that energy into stuff,

But yeah, but you were studying, with your cheating with study.

Ryan: But it wasn't cheating though. Cause it just ended up, but

Hannah: It wasn't cheating cause he didn't use it, but it would have been cheating, but it was intent to cheat.

Ryan: If we had gotten frisked, if we had gotten frisked for contraband,

Hannah: Was that a valid concern that you had at the time? We were really worried about getting padded down the chip for the vocab cheat sheets and in elementary school.

Ryan: But yeah, that was, that's always been apparent to me that writing it down has always helped me remember.

Hannah: Because of the time that you tried to cheat, but then you didn't have to.

Ryan: Yeah, because of the time. So it was multiple times, many, multiple times.

Hannah: It sounds like you put in a lot of work.

Ryan: It became the way that I studied. Yeah. But yes, making flashcards, if you look around our house, we have flashcards.

Hannah: I have thousands. I'm not exaggerating.

Ryan: All over the place,

from the different tests that we do. And,

Hannah: I made a TikTok that showed how many flashcards I had and the stack was like, I've put them on a table. And the stack was like, up to here. It was like from here all the way up to here of all my flashcards.

Ryan: Like we said, a lot of the courses that you take, a lot of them are gonna have, like where you print it out and then you can just cut with scissors.

Hannah: Don't do that.

Ryan: And then that's your flashcard, you can. I'm not knocking people that do that. I've tried doing that.

Hannah: It's not as effective.

Ryan: It's just not as effective. Yeah I can't get into my brain. I think it's just, I'm just not, I don't know. It just doesn't connect with me there.

Hannah: It's just not, it's just not as effective.

I agree with you. I think that matters a lot.

Ryan: Yeah. And one of the things about all these tests is that If you get the vocabulary down, the reason why we're hearkening so much on flashcards is that if you get the vocabulary down, that's 70% of the battle.

Hannah: All you need to know is what the words mean.

If you know what the words mean, a lot of the rest of it is really logical, and if you understand the overarching concepts and you know what the words mean, you can put them together.

Ryan: You use context once you,

Hannah: That's true for everything in life, right?

Ryan: Once you understand the vocabulary, you just use context clues to fill you in.

And you're like, all right. This means, and this system, is that all right. And now I understand that. So that's why we are hearkening so much on the flashcards and just learning the vocabulary.

Hannah: That's also going to help you when you're interviewing for jobs too, because if you know what the words mean, then you can get there an interview. That, and that matters because what you don't want to do is get there and not know what some of the words mean.

It will really help you to just know what people are talking about. It's going to help you in your work too when you get hired. Cause you're just going to need to know what people are talking about. Just a side tip for when you do get hired, and you first start, it's probably a good idea to take notes when you don't know what a word means and look up the word.

And then make flashcard. I did that too. That flashcards are universally helpful.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. The learning doesn't stop once you, as you said, all I think that's one of the things that I didn't stop you when he said it, but earlier you said you're studying to pass the test. You're not studying to know everything.

And that's one of the things that I think is super important. And I agree with you. I think that when you're get, when you get the job, you're going to learn everything that you need to know. A lot of these companies just want to see that you have these types of certifications or this certification.

Some of them just says that, okay. The bare minimum or, and some of them based on the vetting process in order to just sit for the exam, it says that, okay, you've been doing this for X amount of years. I can, I trust this institution to vet you and I don't have to vet you anymore. And just because you get the job doesn't mean the learning stops.

Hannah: That's when it starts.

Ryan: Right. You're gonna need to figure out how to apply this certification and how to apply. It's not even the certification that you're applying. It's the knowledge that you're applying.

Hannah: Also, I think this is something here that's really important to note, especially like I said to those people who are having a confidence issues.

Is that just for the record, that is exactly how college is. It's the same thing. You're testing to show that basic industry knowledge bare minimum enough to signify that you should be able to get an entry-level job in whatever field. That is exactly what a college degree is. And any college graduate, any four-year graduate who pretends like they know what they're doing when they go into their field has no idea what they're in for.

Cause they do not. They're starting from the same exact position that which is they've never done the job, so they don't know anything about doing the job. You can't until you've actually done the work. Because the theory of work, the theory of what you'll need to know is most of the time not accurate at all to what you actually need to know to do the work, because the thing is education, it can't keep up with industry in that industry is always moving faster and changing faster. And so applications of the things you are studying are always going to be really different. And by the time you even get to them certification or otherwise, you're going to be having to learn completely different things in order to be effective in that job.

Ryan: And one of the biggest differences between a lot of these certifications and these college degrees are that a lot of employers don't know what you learned in your college program, which is why the college degree is becoming obsolete.

Hannah: It's also why the certs are taking over. It's funny because a lot of people I see, and I see people say this, but, and this guy got a lot of flack for this too when I said this, but I was like, if you have a college degree and no certification and whatever applications they're hiring for, they're not going to hire you, but if you have the certification and you don't have a degree, you are much more likely to get hired. Why? Because you have applicable knowledge that is much more specific and much more useful to whatever job that is then your degree, because your degree could be anything.

Ryan: Exactly. And it's the, your degree is so general that it doesn't matter.

Hannah: Funny though, cause you'll get people that'll say no, but I have a, whatever this is degree. And then you say okay, but you don't need that type of degree to do this job. And they'll say, but any degree works.

It's funny. Cause it's just circular logic. Cause you can chase your tail back to the original thing and the argument still ends and you needed a degree even if you, don't.

Ryan: So one of the last things that we have to talk about is going to be different supplements and vitamins that we use in order to help us maintain focus.

It's not necessary. That being said, we've found that it does help. This is not medical advice. Talk to your doctor. We know we're not a doctor, Yeah. We don't play one on the internet. No, but this is what works for us. As people that have studied for tests that I've never taken a test that I've gone the whole they're like, oh, this is going to take six months or so, is within a month or so that I finished my tests and these supplements helped me focus during that.

Hannah: Okay. So one thing, so something that I do is I take B12. I usually drink whatever coffee, caffeine. I drink coffee in the morning, so I usually drink two cups of coffee.

I take B12 and then if I really want to kick it into high gear I will take the lion's mane mushroom from they sell it on Amazon, but it tastes awful. It tastes like dirty dirt water, but it does help. I feel like with a clean focus up and then there's not really too much of a drop-off.

Whereas if you take like a, an energy drink or even a five-hour energy, sometimes there can be a crash after that wears off. And I don't feel like I get that with the mushroom powder. So that, that, that's a good one. I feel like too, that really helped me. And I think those are the biggest things.

If you do have attention issues and make sure you take whatever medication you're on so that you can focus. If you need to rearrange your day so that you can take it whenever it's most effective for you, that might help you.

Ryan: Yeah. And then, so for me, I have a little bit of a sensitivity to caffeine, and so if I drink too much coffee, I don't really get the jitters, but I just like.

It's yeah, like I start I started getting the pain behind my eyeballs and then I have to close my eyes and I have to go to sleep. And so for me, I find that along with a morning coffee taking like theanine, l-theanine helps to, supposedly, not supposedly, it helps me take the edge off of caffeine.

I find also CoQ10 helps a lot.

Hannah: Oh yeah. I take that too.

Ryan: But if I don't have the time, or I forget to take all of these things for me. My go-to it's really terrible, but it's just energy drinks. I, and I'm not talking like monster, although monster does help, red bull I'm talking like the 300 milligram, like rains that are out there and bangs,

Hannah: I cannot, I do not encourage this habit, people.

Ryan: Yeah. It is like super bad.

Hannah: Every time you drink something like this, And I'm like,

those things are terrible for you. It's like a reflex. I have to say it.

Ryan: But I'll just pour it over ice and keep it next to me. And I'll just slowly sip on it for however long I'm studying on that. That usually does the trick pretty much lights me up like a Christmas tree, because for me, the lion's mane, the mushroom powder I've taken it.

And I do take it every once in a while. I am super sensitive to it.

Hannah: You have to like dose on it for a couple of weeks before you get like a normal result. It takes a while to get used to it.

Ryan: I'm super sensitive to all of that stuff. And so it does take a little while to dial it in every day you're trying different amounts.

And on the package, it says two scoops or whatever. And it's I can only do a quarter of a scoop. One quarter of one scoop.

Hannah: Pack pat kind of a punch.

Ryan: Anything I'm talking about anything. Individual results may vary, but this is just what helps us to stay in the chair a little bit longer,

Hannah: If you can start a routine before you actually start studying, that'll help you too, because you can get in the mode that you need to be and get all the kinks worked out in your routine before you start.

Ryan: Yeah, and the last thing that I wanted to talk about is how the time slot you're studying. One of the most famous productivity, time slotting techniques is the Pomodoro technique.

I am personally not a huge fan of the Pomodoro technique.

Hannah: I don't like it either.

Ryan: But that's, I think traditionally it's 20 minutes on 20 minutes studying or 20 minutes doing whatever you're doing and five minutes off.

Hannah: I thought it was 45 minutes.

Ryan: 45, 15? 45. Okay. Yeah. So what, whatever it is, it's 45 minutes of studying and then 15 minutes of break.

Hannah: I feel like I've read conflicting things about that because there's the Pomodoro technique for productivity, but then a lot of people say that you need to be like focused in for 90 minutes to get in flow. So I don't know. Cause I kind of wonder if those two things are, they seem opposite to me, right?

Cause if you're sitting still and focusing and you're 45 minutes in and then you stop and you stop for 15 minute, you can't really get in the zone cause you have to keep interrupting yourself as soon as you get. I don't know. I've mixed feelings on that. I find if I can sit still for at least 45 minutes, I have a good chance of continuing to sit still and focus for another 45.

But if I get up it's hard for me to wrangle it back in. I don't know if that's true, but I, would say that too. I, definitely have a difficult, I have a very difficult time focusing. So for people who move around and get distracted easily. Maybe just try to put your butt in the chair instead of do that.


Ryan: So that's exactly what I was gonna say, which is I don't find that technique super useful. Me, just sit down in the chair, and don't get up. If I'm scheduled to study for five hours, then I'm pretty much spending all of the five hours in my chair, and I'm only taking bathroom breaks, and water breaks to refill the big glass of water that I have.

But that's what works for me. But it just, we feel like we have to bring it up just because that's the number one study technique that I've seen out as a Pomodoro technique. And I'm not a huge fan of it.

Hannah: It doesn't work for me either for some people. I'm sure it does.

Ryan: Yeah, sure. It does.

I think for me, we talked about it before, but for me I am a procrastinator.

So like I will, the reason why it doesn't work for me is I'm not disciplined. If I take my 15 minute break that's 15 minute break is gonna be a 30 minute break. And then shoot. Yeah, I might not even go back. I literally just might not go back.

Hannah: So I think probably for people that are not practice studiers, it's probably a better idea to just put your butt in one place and then stay there.

Ryan: I think it just depends. I think you, I think that, you have to try it.

Hannah: And see what works for you?

Ryan: You have to try it. I know that the Pomodoro technique doesn't work for me in productivity as well, just because I've done it. And

Hannah: This would be a good thing to do during your trying to get your routine down before you start.

That's probably a good idea. And then I think the last couple of things would be to do not watch TV while you're studying. It is impossible for you to concentrate. Anyone who tells you that they can do that is not telling you the truth. It's not a thing. It does slow you down. I think probably if you want to help yourself to just listening to classical music while you're studying it's again, it sounds dumb if you don't normally do it, but give it a try, give it a whirl and see if it does.

And just see if that helps you study and, just focus because there's no words, there's no, no podcast, no TV on, in the background, no Netflix and just focus.

Ryan: I agree with this and I think it's, for me, it's anything spoken word. So I can't listen to podcasts. I can't watch TV. I can't even listen to songs like with lyrics.

For me, and when I'm studying, I either listen to the sound of myself breathing or like I'll put on, I think, what is it? What's it called now? I think it's called low-fi girl on YouTube.

It's a good one.

It used to be chilled cow and I'll just listen, I'll just listen to that. Yeah, I'll just do that.

I listened to that also when I'm working to. But the classical even classical music kind of messes me up too. I can't. It's there's too much going on. I can't focus.

Hannah: I think it's more for creative creative work.

Ryan: I dunno. I'm just like, it's just me.

Hannah: It's just you. But that's yeah, that's a good one. The chilled cow is a good one.

Cause it's yeah, it's just the low-fi beats that one's helpful for studying for sure. One thing that I did when I was studying was for the 31 days that I was studying, I was sober and I did not drink until the end of that. And I found that did help because it just makes it more predictable for your energy levels and how you're going to feel when you wake up every day, which makes it easier to stick to a routine with just it's just how it is.

And then the second thing was that it gave me something to at the end, cause then it was really fun when I passed my exam I came out it came out to the front yard and I was like, oh, pass the exam. And then we drank a whole bottle of wine and it was a good time. So I think that, that, was a good, that was something that helped me while I was studying.

And if, you are a drinker, I think that may be something that you might want to consider. Cause I do think it helped a lot. Just have helped me have a clear mind and then just help to focus that time too.

Ryan: Definitely. So I think to wrap it up, this is just how we've done it in the past.

I think there are many ways to accomplish this. You don't have to take any of this as advice. You don't have to do any of it, and you're still gonna pass. I'm sure as long as you put in the work and study but this is just how we've done it. As people that have taken more certifications than most people in their adult life.

And, yeah this is what works for us. And we're no longer intimidated by the study schedules of certifications or you're like, okay I'm thinking about getting a new certification or to think about doing this and you know exactly what to do. And I know exactly what to do and what works for us and what doesn't work for us.

And we just wanted to get this out because certifications is something that we talk about a lot. And we know that's where the current job market is, a lot of different, especially in tech. A lot of different tech companies are requiring certifications and a lot of people. That we talked to don't even know how to study for them.

And so this is just a good place to start. And basically we just wanna let you know just do it just do it. Yeah. You can do it. You're going to make it through it. It's going to be temporary, as we said. But on the other side, you're going to get it and hopefully you're going to get a better job.

Hannah: Yeah, definitely. I think, yeah, that's good. I think that's good for people to hear too. You can absolutely do it. If we can do it, you can do it.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Hannah: Okay. And I think that's all for today. Like, we talked about before, don't you don't wanna miss our newsletter. So please head to the site, which is degreefreenetwork.com.

And please, sign up because there's going to be some cool stuff in there that you do not want to miss out on and then make sure to like, and subscribe to the podcast really helps us a whole bunch and we really appreciate. Yeah. And

Ryan: then you guys can give us a follow on social media, follow the podcast, @degreefreepod.

And then also our personal, @hannahmaruyama for Hannah and @ryankmaruyama for me. I think that is it. If you guys are studying for a certification, good luck. We know that you can do it, drop us a line when you pass [email protected] All right guys, until next time. Aloha.

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