I listened to the podcast interview with the author of “The Art of Getting Things Done.”

This productivity bible was a popular book twenty years ago in corporate America.

Do any of the tools and tips apply to studying for the CPA exam?

I’ve often said that the CPA exam is more an exam of your discipline or productivity than a test of your knowledge. It is a unique exam in that you have other concurrent obligations. In college, you could focus on your exams. With the CPA exam you often have to balance work and study.

The first principle of “GTD” is capturing all of your to-do’s and responsibilities. You need to be quite militant in this phase which may feel like a time suck. Most people will use an app such as Evernote. The key is that you need to record everything. You need to be aware of where your time is going. This enables you to know how much time you will actually be able to allocate to studying for the CPA exam.

Next you need to break down the tasks by prioritizing what is important. You need to clarify the exact steps needed to accomplish something. The key here is specificity. For example, you would not right down “do a CPA practice exam.” Instead, you would want to be specific. You would right down, “do 25 MCQ’s and 2 SIMS.”

If you use the GTD system you might find that you are more honest about how much time you have actually studied. Often times, I notice that a lot of students claim to have studied for 200 hours for one CPA exam. However, once we break down their actual CPA study time, it is half that.