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Question the Guru

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This week, I received an email from a reader of the blog.  Let’s call him Sergio Flores.

Sergio asked me a lot of great questions. Most of these questions were ones that I asked myself during the long and arduous nine months prior to passing the CCIE lab.

You know, so much time and energy is invested into this endeavor that you hope against hope that once you pass it will be worth it.

Aside from trekking in the Himalayan mountains (which I’ve done), getting married and growing a family (which I’m doing), the CCIE has been the most mentally/physically/emotionally trying experience I’ve ever gone through.

Was it worth it?  Hmm…  Is the Pope Catholic? ;)

Since his letter was so relevant to CCIE preparation, I’m going to share snippets of it in this blog post and answer his questions.  Perhaps more people than just Sergio can benefit from my answers.
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Written by Matthew Berry

August 24th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

My Weekly Study Schedule

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While I sit here, waiting for my son to fall asleep, I figured I would write a little blurb about my typical weekly study schedule as I prepare for the CCIE voice lab. Before I attend one of my IPexpert bootcamps, I have a personal goal to log 800 hours of study time. So this journey will go on for another year at least. In the end, I want both the number and the depth of knowledge.

Sundays: “Labbing” Day (Solid 8 hours)

I sit down and lab from 7am to 3pm using and the IPexpert workbooks. I am on Workbook 1 at the moment. The longer time frame gives me familiarity with focusing in eight hour stretches, which is mental training for the lab.  As a family man, it’s also the only extended period of time where I can focus on deep subjects without interruption.  In fact, my wife takes the boy out of the house during this time so I get 100% focus.

I resource that I started using last month is IPexpert’s Volume 1 Video Walkthroughs with Vik Mahli.  I was blown away by the additional content in the DVD.  I will do the lab on my own and then go back and allow Vik to walk me through it, step by step.  Great virtual mentorship opportunities!

Mondays/Wednesdays: Light Days (Approx. 2 hours)

I wake up at 4:30am to go work out for 45 mins. It’s not a lot, but I need to maintain even a mediocre standard of fitness.  In 2009, I spent the entire year studying to the detriment of my body.  I gained weight and lost energy, which resulted in bouts of discouragement.  If you’re going to study for the CCIE, make sure you get exercise!  If for nothing else, it’s good for your mind.

After working out, I return home and study for one hour before my wife and son wake up.  I usually read through Cisco documentation, reflect on the labs from Sunday, or read up on the lab activities for the upcoming Sunday.  Most of these insights have gone into a Word document that I sync between computers using Dropbox.  However, James Key inspired me to document a lot of my information online so you will find some goodies on this site as time goes on.

Drive to and from work, I listen to Mark Snow’s CCIE Voice v3 VoD lectures that I ripped to MP3s.  I will listen to whatever topic I am “labbing” on that week.  Oh yah, I also try to listen to these while I am working out in the morning.

The evenings restricted from studying.  This is for time with my wife.  These nights really help maintain our relationship and keep things cool between us.  For her, she is at rest because she knows that she “gets me” for these nights – the whole evening, undivided attention, spent on improving our marriage and communication.  One more note: On “light days,” I am the one who puts the two-year-old to bed.  It gives my wife a break.

Tuesdays/Thursdays: Heavy Days (Approx. 3-4 hours)

Wake up at 4:30am, exercise for 45 minutes, drive home and study for one hour before the family wakes up.  I also listen to Mark Snow’s MP3s (see above) while working out and to/from work.  Up until this point, these “heavy days” are just like my “light days.”

After working, I come home and spend time with the family.  We eat dinner together and I play with my son until 7:00pm, at which point my wife puts him to bed.  I barricade myself into the bedroom and geek out (i.e. study) for two hours.  I will fire up some of my own equipment (n.b. old 3700s, 2811, 3750 POE, etc.), read blogs, or read Cisco documentation.

Friday Morning: Morning Off

On Friday mornings, I watch something from like The Office, Lost, 24.  Then I go to Panera Bread and talk theology with a buddy of mine.  It’s good for me to pursue other interests so I don’t go entirely crazy.

Friday Night – Saturday: Sabbath

We celebrate the Sabbath (a.k.a. Shabbat) on Friday night with a family meal (homemade pizza) and blessings.  The following day, Saturday, is a family day where the books are closed and all computers are turned off.

Written by Matthew Berry

February 5th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Blog,CCIE Voice

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