We students are planners! Whether it any activity related to studies or other than studies, we always make plans. We know that our CA exams fall in the month of May and November every year. Our planning for exam studies begin right from the day our exam dates are declared by the Institute. I am sure most of us make fancy, colourful and impressive plans on our pin boards, calendar, chart papers and white board chalking out details and strategies of the syllabus to be covered, the books to be read within the particular time frame marked in different colours. The moment we finish chalking out the details, we feel proud that our study plans appear impressive enough to intimidate any non-CA student.
But what happens to our plans? I guess hardly any of us are able to stick to it. The moment we start studying, we realize something is wrong, we are unable to catch up with our study strategy and as days pass, we are not sure if we are following our plan and then we say “Oh forget it, let’s just study! Let’s keep that plan aside and just keep studying!”
Sounds déjà vu?
So here’s a tip. How about applying the PDCA Cycle to make our plans work?
PDCA Cycle – PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT- Cycle is popularly known as Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle. Deming is popularly known as a pioneer for his quality management approach and statistical process control techniques for manufacturing to the Japanese. The PDCA Cycle tool is one of the problem- solving approaches amongst Deming’s quality-driven philosophy.
Here’s how we can apply PDCA Cycle approach in our studies.
a. PLAN – As discussed before, I believe all of us are good at this planning stage by now! Plan the syllabus to be covered for the exam, the list of books to be referred, the time frame within which you would like to finish your first reading, second reading etc. and the number of revisions that you intend to do before appearing for exams.
b. DO – Here you need to do begin doing as planned. Stick to the list of syllabus you prepared. However, you have to be clear that “Do” does not mean “Do”. “Do” means doing as per plan but initially it should be on “Try” and “Test” basis. Thus, “Do” does not mean “Full implementation” of your plan. Break your huge plan into small plans – i.e. on daily, weekly and monthly basis.
c. CHECK – In this step, you have to check i.e. review whether what you are doing in Step 2 above on daily basis is working as per your plan. Are you really able to accomplish what you planned? Is the time frame you decided in your plan perfect enough to proceed forward? Or do you need to reframe your planning so that you don’t end up in a fire-fighting situation later? Are you feeling happy and are you getting a sense of achievement that you are able to accomplish what you had planned? If not, then it is time you reframe a bit of your plan accordingly, for example, modify the time required for the subject, or discipline yourself to near your targets etc.
It is absolutely ok if you decide to repeat the DO and CHECK steps again 2-3 times in order to incorporate your improvements. Once you are satisfied that you are improving, you can move on to the last step i.e. ACT.
d. ACT – At this step, you should fully implement the solution that works best for you which you found out in the DO and CHECK Steps. Once you find the solution which suits you the best, you are ready to ACT and implement. However, the ACT step is not the last step. You can always restart your PDCA cycle again at any point if you feel you need to improve further.
The idea is basically to divide your syllabus into small fragments so that you can easily review yourself and implement the PDCA cycle in every single area – be it a particular subject, or a concept, or Chapter,.. just about anything! This tool is all about making your study process fun and playful! And ofcourse you can also make a PDCA Wheel for every subject and concept and add attach it to your study plan! All the best!