My Study Workflow

I’m studying for three things right now: AWS SAA-C03, OCP JSE 17, and Kubernetes. (No, I’m not taking the Kubernetes exam. That will be for next year when I’ve learned enough to start my review for either CKAD or CKA.) My workflow for my study sessions is totally different from when I was in college a few decades back. In fact, the workflow is totally different from what I had even just a few years ago.

I follow the Five-Day Study Plan put together by Cornell University. Yes, the same university that gave us the Cornell Notes. But I’m not using Cornell Notes as my note-taking system. I’m using the Zettelkasten method.

The five-day study plan is perfect considering there is a LOT of information that you need to go through just for the AWS SAA-C03 exam. The plan goes as follows:

Day 01: Prepare chunk A (2 hrs)

Day 02: Prepare chunk B (2 hrs); Review chunk A (30 mins)

Day 03: Prepare chunk C (1.5 hrs); Review chunk A (15 mins), B (30 mins)

Day 04: Prepare chunk D (1 hr); Review chunk A (15 mins), B (15 mins), C (30 mins)

Day 05: Review chunk A (10 mins), B (10 mins), C (15 mins), D (25 mins)

Preparing means figuring out what you need to know. Here you can develop study sheets, make flash cards, summarize material. This is active study.

Reviewing is just that. You do self-tests to evaluate if you understood the stuff from the prepare portion. You try to explain the concepts to others since teaching something is form of self-test.

That’s where the zettelkasten method comes in. I have noone to teach this stuff. So I used the method to simulate explaining a concept to someone. If I can’t write it down in my own words, I go back and read the material again.

My workflow using the zettlelkasten method is as follows:

  1. During prepare mode, I write my temporary notes in a notebook. Just one of those paper notebooks with 16 sheets that you can put in a binder. I use a pen with erasable ink (instead of a fountain pen as I often do) to write my notes.

  2. During review mode, I take those notes and rewrite them in ObsidianMD. I generate those notes to A6 sheets of paper. If a note doesn’t fit that paper size, I have to rewrite it or split it up into two idempotent notes. Usually I end up realizing the original was too wordy, so it’s good practice for me to make those ideas into a single, compact, and concise note.

  3. When I’ve written the week’s notes into ObsidianMD, I take my notebook and erase all the writing. That way I get to reuse the notebook and start all over again for the next week. No wasted paper.

I find this workflow helps me keep up with what I’m learning. The more important thing here is that I am not overwhelmed with information overload. This workflow is sustainable for me and avoids burnout which would shut me down for at least three days. No, we definitely can’t have that.

You can learn more about the Cornell Five-Day Study Plan here:

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Subject: comment on 2023-08-01-1016