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How to Stay on Track and Finish Your Course

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Finishing 95 hours of anything might sound daunting. (Especially when it comes to homework or studying!) But you have a goal to become an IBCLC®, so use these tips to help you stay on track and finish your course.

Keep your eyes on the prize

I know it may sound trite. But it’s critical to remember why you wanted to do this.

Perhaps you’re looking for a new job, and getting the job depends on having your IBCLC certification. In that example, you must first meet the IBLCE’s requirements to apply for the exam.

Think about it. What’s to be gained or lost here?

  • Complete the course and submit your 95 hours by the deadline, and you’ll have the opportunity to sit for the IBCLC exam.
  • Leave the course unfinished and you’ll be forced to wait until the exam is offered again. It’s offered only twice a year in the United States, and only once a year in some other countries. Don’t risk having someone else get the job you’re looking forward to.

When you remember the stakes, you’ll find the emotional fortitude to stay on track and finish your course, no matter what.

Stay focused on what counts as “finished”

To qualify for the exam, you must have completed your course work and be able to prove it. The key word here is “completed.” So, what counts as “finished”?

Stated bluntly, you can’t get your certificate until you’ve completed the assignments.

Here’s the key: Complete only the required assignments, tackle the end-of-chapter tests, and move on to earning your certificate as directed.

At this point, there is no urgent need to master the material.

Later, after you’ve qualified for the exam, you still have several months to master the material you didn’t fully grasp when you completed the assignments. You could also dive into the recommended assignments that we give in that same course.

Keep moving

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton gave his first law of motion: A body in motion stays in motion.

The same is true for humans. Once you get underway, try to stay in motion each day. It’s much harder to get going again after you’ve been inert.  

Commit to “study time”

Honestly, it probably doesn’t matter what time you study. If you’re a lark, you might want to set aside study time in the morning, but if you’re an owl, you’ll probably opt for the evening.

Just pick a time and stick to it.   

Commitment is crucial. Discipline is crucial. And discipline simply means giving yourself a command and following it. That’s what it takes to stay on track and finish your course.

Plan for interruptions

Interruptions happen. Your kid gets a concussion during soccer practice, your car drops a tie rod, or your chatty sister-in-law drops in unexpectedly.

You can often reduce interruptions, but it’s nearly impossible to eliminate them completely.

The key is to give yourself a buffer.

It’s a little like taking a road trip with an infant or toddler. Build in more time than you think the trip “should” take.

So, you might be thinking, “Marie, I’ve got only a month or so left to finish my course! I don’t have any “extra” days!” Right, okay.

In that case, find some extra minutes or hours.

Squeeze out some extra time

C’mon. You’ve done this in the past. I’m sure you have. (We’ve all done it.) You can do it again.

Look for those little hidden pockets of time. For example, you could study:

  • on your lunch hour,
  • while you’re waiting for your child to get out of dance class,
  • waiting for an appointment.

You could “invent” some time, like:

  • using a day of your accumulated paid time off,
  • asking your sister to watch your kids for an hour or two,
  • listening to the audiocasts during your commute.

Use a checklist

You could rig this any way you wish. But let’s say you’re taking my 95-hour Lactation Education Course. You could make a list of all of the modules and check off each module as you complete it.

Or you may prefer to make a list of the five units and make a checkmark each time you finish.

Or shoot! Maybe you can come up with another way to make a checklist! But the idea here is to see yourself making progress as you finish your course.

While 95 hours may seem like a lot, it’s manageable. Work in sections, break down your workload, and work steadily.

How are you working to finish your course? Which of these tips have you found most useful? Share with your fellow candidates in the comments section.

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