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How Do I Manage Time For UPSC Mains Preparation?

Guest Post

Vinay Nagaraju

There is so much to read. So many papers to complete, and so less time. I am involved in a job, I am doing the study full time but there seems to be no time even if I am putting more than 8 hrs a day! Does any of these sound familiar? Well I guess you are in the right place then.

No wonder the UPSC is considered mother of all exams. There is so much to do, so many challenges and such little time. And it is not just enough if you are good at one thing, you have to be good at all. You are trying for the role of a generalist aren’t you? You have to be good at all. The question definitely is how does one tackle it and move further?

Familiarize – Identify the areas you have to prepare in. Identify the weightage, marks each area fetches you. For example history might fetch you a little less compared to polity. Or geography less than your optional. Go through the whole syllabus, remember it by heart. Make a list, identify all the papers of the previous years, check the trend. I do agree the exams are about variation but statistically the variations will not be a great digression. Statistics are still a lot more believable in many fronts.

Prioritize – Of course current affairs is a lot more exciting to read than the optional. It seems like more fun talking about international affairs and involving oneself in a debate. In an exam like this, with so many things to focus on, it becomes very easy to fixate on one thought and feel that it is the most productive one. Sometimes being a little objective and looking at it from a distance in a neutral fashion helps. It may still be a very interesting topic to spend time on, but that is not what you are here for. The question is what is the probability of that fetching you the marks or the rank you want. The big question is still that which would define your priorities.

Organize – Once you have identified the areas, the priorities, the next thought is how much time you are going to allocate for this! Depending on the above two, slot your day accordingly; keep changing the plan until you reach a comfort zone. The same plan might not work for two different people. Come up with your own, check if it works, monitor it constantly and see if it is taking you in the direction of your bigger goal, which still is securing the highest mark.

Optimize – Agreed that you have done the above steps very efficiently but that is something most of us do. In fact many are stuck at the first three levels and think job well done. Well a plan is just to set things in order. Knowledge is an amazing feeling but that alone never gets you results. It is the action! Work on your plan, keep monitoring yourself and work on the feedback. Identify the times where your concentration is at its peak and what subject deserves to be there. That defines your interest level, the productivity and ease of readability.

Improvise – The above set of rules sounds very fine but that alone is not going to take you anywhere. Most smart people know the above and some of them even do it. But that doesn’t give you the edge. This is where your personality comes into play. A constant improvisation on a daily basis takes you a long way. I don’t mean to say that increase the number of every day! That is hogwash. In the end you just have 24 hrs just like everyone else.

But that is the beauty of things, how can you improvise on a daily basis if not in the form of time. Well that is the secret isn’t it? Efficiency! Identify what aids the process. If not time, what can you improve on? – Concentration, writing skills, retention skills, talking, interview…. There is so much more you could do. Identify how you can improvise on a daily basis, maintain a diary of things of what you did each day to improvise, maybe you read an interesting article, maybe music that helped intensify preparation, discussion with a friend, debates, mock answer papers. Make quantifiable progress and a very regular one. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built brick by brick and so will be your rank and the post!

I know there is a lot of gyaan here, but the truth is in simplicity of things. End of the day, anything mentioned here, should be simple enough to implement. The moment any bit of the suggestion here feels very complicated, feel free to skip it, the idea is not to follow the exact same procedure, it never is.The idea is to reach your goal and that is the whole reason for this article. All the very best, do share your thoughts there are always ways to work things out.


Vinay Nagaraju