The following are some of those general suggestions that one must keep in mind, or rather; one must follow with heart and in deeds. They help in making a much better, enjoyable preparation than just a worry and deadline oriented book reading.
i) Enjoy the preparation
Do not worry too much about the results and questions etc. every time. Leave it for the best judgment of whoever takes care of it. All we need to do is to have a planned preparation and go about it day by day, one day at a time.
ii) Do not pay heed to rumors
It is a surety that people get carried away with rumors, especially in those areas that are famous for aspirants. Do not spent even a single moment thinking or even discussing about these rumors unless you have nothing else to do.
Rumors about the results dates, cut offs, change of patterns etc. will generally go around you all the time. The less you pay attention to such topics, the better it will be for your preparation.
It is not easy to stay away from such rumors, especially when they relate to results (of prelims) but try to realize the damage they do to one’s mental peace and how they screw up one’s routine unnecessarily.
iii) Do not stay alone and grow beard
It looks funny but only two kinds of people grow beard, one whose love has gone unfortunate or one who is preparing for civils!
Just try to understand that staying alone or away from people or growing beard doesn’t show any seriousness about your preparation nor they are the sure shot ways to get in to the services.
Staying away from phone and family, thinking of preparation as a ‘yagna’ are old perceptions when there was less access to information and aspirants are truly misinformed. Not so anymore.
Mingle with people (that definitely does not mean to waste time, you are grownups, you know where to draw a line), stay in touch with friend and family, live your life and prepare.
iv) Do not buy each and every material that comes in to the market
Preparation is not measured in terms of neither the number of books you read from, nor the number of hours you sit with your books. Get books selectively.
v) Start using Internet and laptops
Please start using the laptops, if you are not already familiar with them. They are essential not just for the preparation but also for all the activities you need to take up later.
vi) Have lots of discussions
To understand any topic with clarity, discussions are a great way. More, discussions help in giving a pattern to your random thoughts, gives a feedback to oneself how much one knows about a particular topic.
It brings out different perspectives that does not stuck to one’s mind by self-study. Embrace discussions as a part of your routine. Don’t ever think that the other person benefits more than you through sharing of information in discussions, it is never the case. Share freely all the information you have that is necessary in a discussion.
Do not confront! Discussion is for improving the understanding, not to prove a point or to prove that you’re the only one who is right and who knows everything. If possible, form a small group with likeminded people, and have a continuous discussion and sort of, shared preparation where each can help others.
vii) Try to get involved in opinion sharing
Similar to discussions, try to start writing comments in leading newspapers like The Hindu, on topics that you know and that you don’t know, on topics that you understand and those that you don’t understand. It is a platform where you can put your thoughts into words.
It also gives a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to see one’s comments getting published on the website/hard copy. Encourages a lot! Next time you search your name on Google, you can find your comment.
If you are anywhere near to a tech savvy person, or one who sits on a laptop for a considerable period of time, start blogging. Put down your ideas and thoughts.
It can be anything from your childhood memories to something that troubles you badly that needs to be changed in the country. It helps a lot in making a huge difference to your answer writing and compilation of thoughts in your mind.
ix) Postal Coaching
For all those of you who feel they are far from the centers of preparation, you can always go for postal coaching, which is provided by many institutes nowadays. It is not mandatory to take such coaching, but this just ensures a constant supply of current information from a remote location (or even out of India) and helps in gathering material easily.
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