Hello people, and welcome to Part 3 of my "Enriching Your Certification Journey” series. This challenge is not so much a challenge, but a lifestyle choice.


Earning a certification (or many) is generally a long-term project. It demonstrates that you are focused and can persevere toward an end goal (which is great for employers to know!). But, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Your study environment is key to your ability to concentrate and maintain enthusiasm and passion as you work your way through the many areas of an exam blueprint.



You need to ensure that your environment is comfortable in terms of lighting, seating, amount of space, and temperature. You want to have a familiar keyboard and ensure that your monitor or monitors are at the right height to provide you with a comfortable posture, because, let’s face it, you are going to spend many long hours in front of your PC or laptop.


But what about the space between your ears? What environment do we need to create there in order to maintain the mental state required to get through such an arduous task?


For me personally, it’s music. There is not a time in my life (good or bad) that I cannot recall the soundtrack to. From hanging out with my friends on a road trip to spending 24 hours straight rebuilding the Novell NetWare server that I trashed at a customer site. From falling in love to getting a broken heart, music just has a way of accompanying mood.


I understand that some people prefer complete silence. I personally cannot study in complete silence (because that is when the voices in my head take over). No, when I study, I need music, and I need music that is going to get me psyched up to study. I need music that will inspire me and ignite my passion, and make me want to succeed at all costs.


A pen and paper, coffee, and my jams - the perfect study environement



So, my challenge here is for you to create a playlist (I would normally say a "mixtape,” but that is so 1985) that you will use to study with. Don’t limit yourself to one. I have a few for the different frames of mind that I can find myself in. I am happy to share some of my music choices in the hope that you will return the favor by providing me with at least one of your favorite songs. Since they can be embarrassing at times, it is only fair to share. 



My first playlist is the one that I use for when I am in problem-solving mode. It’s my "Professor Layton Soundtrack” playlist and basically compiles the music from the Professor Layton Nintendo game series. The music is mysterious and occasionally ethereal. I find it to be repetitive enough to enhance my concentration when things get tough.


I also have a playlist that I use when I really don’t feel like studying. It’s the “Kick *** and Take Names” playlist. It has songs like “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, “I Want It All” by Queen, “King of the Mountain” by KISS (don’t worry, it gets worse!), “Roar” by Katy Perry, and “I Wanna Be Somebody” by W.A.S.P.  These songs tend to bring out the youthful energy I need to get psyched for study.


And for when I want to see keys fly off the keyboard in a study rage, it’s “Strapping Young Lad” (That’s the name of a band, not one of my hobbies.) That’s my “Study Rage” Playlist.


It’s totally personal and completely your choice. I know people who have used the “Rocky” theme, the soundtrack to “The Godfather,” or “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I have a friend who loved blaring Sisqó’s “Thong Song” when he studied. I was not sure if it was the fact that the artist’s name reminded him of Cisco or if it was the visuals in the lyrics that inspired him to study, but as a dual CCIE certification holder today, it certainly worked!


In fact, someone once told me that if you chew a particular flavor of bubblegum while you study (and ONLY when you study - not at other times), sticking a piece of that flavor gum in your mouth just before you get into the exam will stimulate the memories of the last time you chewed it (i.e. your study!).  I don’t know how true that is, but I am pretty sure music would have the same effect.


Whether it’s Bob Dylan, P!nk, King Diamond, or Lily Allen, it does not matter. If it makes your pupils dilate and your heart rate increase just a little, surely it’s got to help?


Over to you: What’s on your “get psyched to study” playlist?!