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Is it possible to prepare for UPSC exams while I am working full-time? If yes, then how can I prepare?

Preparing for UPSC while working 

Yes, you can definitely prepare for the exams if you want to. Here are some tips which you should follow while thinking of preparing UPSC!

  1. The first thing that everyone  need to understand is that with Civil services, each person’s starting point, motivation and journey is different. Please don’t compare yourself to anyone else.You have to stop looking for a “perfect strategy” because there is none. Someone might be really bad in Geography, what purpose would it solve if that person follows someone and over-reads Art and Culture? While you listen to anyone don’t ever forget the uniqueness of your own journey. And have faith in that uniqueness.
  2. Handling the family is another issue that is very important. This is especially true for those who are married, those who live with families or are in a joint family and those who are a bit on the higher side in terms of age. A lot of times it is not the immediate family, but the relatives who play games with our mindset – please avoid them. You need to keep your own immediate family on the right side of this – if you are a husband or a wife, make sure your significant other understands your central beliefs, and your larger purpose in life. Make sure your parents don’t feel left out on your time with them, but refuse to attend or take part in useless and pretentious ceremonies. You will have to be okay with offending a few people for your own principles. Those are the ones who will keep you grounded if you fly high and pull you up if you fall. Less is more, here.
  3. A special note to the ladies, here. Being a female myself, I can understand that females have a unique set of challenges in front of them when they decide to take up the exam – and if you are married or working – it is a double challenge. There is always an additional pressure of having a child if you don’t have one already.  Housewives are equally anxious and insecure about taking the exam. If you fall in these categories – please don’t let anyone around you tell you that you cannot do this. You deserve a chance and don’t quit without having yours.
  4. If you are working, you don’t have a few luxuries – and you need to have this in mind before you even begin this. Shut off social media – completely if you can. It is generally said that if you are fat, don’t believe yourself that you will not eat a packet of chips – instead don’t buy one! It is the same here. If you have to be in these things for your job or any other practical reasons, then set strict timings. Use Apps which help you to switch phone off for a certain time. And please DON’T keep commenting needlessly in Disqus comments or Forum discussions. You not only waste your own time but also make finding meaningful stuff difficult for others. Bottomline is – if your preparation is compromised due to your job or family, don’t introduce one more distraction. Delayed gratifications, please.
  5. Many people who are working – by virtue of their anxiety are always looking for some motivation. The lessons are all out there – you know what you have to do! All you have to do is – Shut up and actually do it. Have the discipline – the habit will sustain you, motivation alone is useless. Adrenaline is the peak, what you need is a plateau. This is a long haul,  build your plateaus.
  6. Know your strengths and I cannot stress this enough. Look at yourself objectively without personal attachment. Your age is your strength – if you are older, you have a perspective that is much more mature than a youngster. And no matter what anyone says – that is true if it works for you. You are in a job, it is your strength – you have a back up. Use that to calm your mind. You have taken the plunge – now don’t let stereotypes about the exam back you down. Understand your strengths.  Your beliefs will make sense only to you and if they do – trust them, while you learn also from your mistakes.
  7. By all means, take short cuts. there are compilations – Insights makes an amazing collection of current affairs. If you have someone who is curating current affairs for you, why waste time? Use the resources, study smartly and focus on spreading a wider net rather than diving deep.
  8. The most important thing is to believe that there is no difference between you and anyone else studying for the exam without a job. All you need for the exam is a basic knowledge and perspective of the issues surrounding you. Prelims is a factual exam, But over a certain threshold, your marks don’t matter as they aren’t counted anyway. For Mains, if you read current affairs everyday and think about them – make a personal view on them – that is enough. Factual Mains stuff can be read after Prelims. And if you include a simultaneous writing practice, a daily (quality) reading of 5-6 hours is enough. Use the weekends to compensate. Don’t allow the hope to drift away, and support it with disciplined hard work.
  9. If you have a few attempts with you, don’t be complacent, but also don’t give up. It might take some time for you to achieve what you want to – but don’t beat yourself up.
  10.  Have a few leaves before the actual exam. It is important to be with yourself for a little while when you are going out there to test yourself against so many people.
  11. Using micro opportunities is very important. At no point of time in a day was without some form of learning material. From bathroom time to  dinner time,  use even 5 minutes to watch or read something. Also, use smart methods .
  12. Compartmentalisation and cross learning of subjects is again, essential if you are in a job. See how working can become your strength in a given area? Use these strengths – you can really use them in your exam.

The most important thing, is to never lose the enthusiasm. Focus on making the journey better and productive, and take this from someone who has gone through this – the goal will take care of itself.  Your goal is to become a bit better each day – you are much larger than UPSC or any other organisation/institution. Your purpose is too small if UPSC is able to defeat it. Don’t allow that to happen – millions of people out there are counting on you!

chiseled and crafted by G.Rajput sir

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