(UPDATED: 04/2019) Joey's PMP Journey
(And Trying to Make it Not Suck)
Quick Updates (Details on updates in the “Journey” section):
  • 03/04/19 – Updated notes here
  • 03/15/19 – More studying.  More awesome notes.  Also updated my excel notes (details in the “Journey” section below).
  • 04/09/19 – A lot of shit has changed.  I’ve made a lot of adjustments to my study plan (more details below in the “Journey” section).
    • This is likely the last update for this specific post.  With my new plan of attack for this PMP shit-show, I’m going to write weekly articles, which will cover what happened (or didn’t happen) each week.

The PMP and me

You know when people talk about that moment when “they just knew this is what they had to do in their life, they can feel it”?  And then you roll your eyes and think, save the nonsense for someone else.  (You know you thought that too)

Boy…do I feel like an asshole now.

I’ve had that moment.  (And if you’re wondering, I did tell myself – “I bet you feel like a jerk now, right?”)

Vader PMP
I found this awesome meme here
Quick Background

Being a PM isn’t something new in my career.  I’m certainly not formally trained as a PM, and throughout the last 15 years, I’ve only had about 5 or 6 of those years doing “official” PM work (although I’ll argue forever and ever about the massive overlap between Business Analysts and Project Managers skillsets, and most of my career has been as a BA).  However, at some point last year, something clicked in the deep and terrible abyss that is my mind.  I thought…holy shit, I need to be a PM for life.  I’m good at it, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

So, here we are.  The grueling pilgrimage to finally acquire the coveted certification.  The PMP.

What's my point?

As anyone would, I’ve been taking notes while I study.  Nothing riveting there.  However, as I study, I’ve not only been studying.  I’ve been trying to find ways to make the process slightly more fun.  Or at least more efficient.  With the ridiculous density of the information, and everyone saying “MEMORIZE!  MEMORIZE!  MEMORIZE!”, I’ve decided to fight the power and come up with something different.

Not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of finding better ways to help myself, and ultimately others on their journey to the PMP.  My goal is (well, besides the PMP) to give back to the community.  Share my shit-show of a journey, so hopefully others can find some useful information to help them out.

Lets light this candle!

I’m going to consistently update this article as I go through the journey.  I’ll try to keep things organized as I advanced through, so folks aren’t wading through a complete dumpster fire of information.

The Resources

1) Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep Book (9th edition)*
  • No surprise there. The tried and true “Rita Book” is one of the key resources in my arsenal.
  • Link to the book here
2) Cornelius Fichtner’s PM PrepCast Video Lessions & Exam Simulator
  • Since I needed to get my 35 hours of certified project management education (like I said, no formal training. Just years of getting shit done!), I picked up Cornelius’ stuff.  Great info in his videos to supplement everything else, as well as a highly rated simulator.
  • Link to the course here
3) Scott Payne’s PMP Exam Master Prep book
  • What I’ve read so far of Scott’s book is awesome. I’ll discuss more about my “plan” later, but his book not only helps you understand the information with awesome Case Studies (and avoid memorizing), but it aligned exactly how I wanted to approach the way I study for the exam.
  • You can buy his book here
PMP Master Prep

NOTE – You’ll notice I didn’t list the PMBOK. I know.  I’m a damned lunatic.  I have no plans of using it more than just a reference piece.  At this point anyways.  I’v tried reading the PMBOK once before (back in the 5th edition).  I’m going to try to avoid it this time.

Nobody tell PMI.

The Study Plan

The "Old" Plan

The initial study plan I setup was to go through 2 chapters per week in Rita’s book and Cornelius’ videos.  Once that was done, going back through the book again, brush up on the gaps, take exam simulators, etc etc.  (This was based on a variation of the plan my business partner used here.)

Pretty standard stuff, right?

Well, in my efforts to avoid another “cookie cutter” process, I decided to change things up a bit.  A lot of the initial study plan remains in tact, but the first run through the material is going to change.

The New Plan

The PMBOK, Rita’s Book, and most resources go in sequential order based on the knowledge areas (Integration, then Scope Management, then Schedule…..etc).  Instead of doing that, I’ve decided to take the approach that Ricardo Vargas talks about in his video (here).  By studying based on the Process Groups, not Knowledge Areas.

This is what excites me so much about Scott’s book.  He takes the same approach, and adds ways to make the information even easier to consume.

When I thought of this idea initially, I wondered if I was just being bat-shit crazy.  I mean, skipping around Rita’s book to study could be a pain in the ass.  But I knew there has to be a way to make this process less terrible.  When I read just the preface of Scott’s book, it fully supported my idea.  So, either Scott’s as insane as me, or he’s on to something to make the PMP study process far more……awesomerer.

Awesomerer is too a word.

The Journey

04/09/19:

It’s been a while since my last update.  Feels like ages ago.  I guess the PMP Exam Prep time vacuum will do that to you.

Anywho, a lot has happened since the last update.  Sort of.  I’ve hacked up my previous study plan, and changed things up a lot.  Speaking of that, I wrote another small article here about that very topic.

Here are a few key points on the latest in my journey:

  • As always, I’ve updated my notes here
  • I worked through most of the Schedule related process in the Planning process group.
  • Now the more important updates:
    • I’ve decided to stop using Rita’s book as part of my journey.  At least as nothing more than a reference book.
    • I’m going to only use Scott’s material.  This includes his book I’ve already been using, as well as his exam simulator
    • I’ve revised my study plan to follow his material alone, alone with quizzes throughout the process.
    • This is also my last update to this article.  As I go through my journey, I’ve decided I’m going to just write weekly articles that include updates to how things are going.  Each week is vastly different, and I think it would be neat to document that along the way.

I was going to write up my thoughts on changing things throughout the PMP journey, but it ended up being waaaay too long winded.  So I just wrote a short article about it here.

I’ll continue to send emails to subscribers every time I write up a new article so folks can follow along with the journey.

03/15/19:
  • Ok, my study plans took a slight break.  I was in Prague, and I stepped away from everything for a relaxing week.  But I’m back at it now!
  • I’ve gotten through a few processes in the Initiating & Planning Process Groups.  Updated the notes here
  • Few key notes from this update:
    • The process of reading Rita’s book, then following up with Scott’s book has been great.  Really fucking great.  I’m already convinced that this technique is going to be insanely effective.
    • In my updated notes, I added a tab for my notes on Scott’s book as I read through it.
    • You’ll notice some redundancy in the notes, but I’ve found that it’s been quite helpful in reiterating the key points through my note taking this way.  Most of the time, when I have questions in my head after reading through Rita’s material, it’s answered/clarified when I read the corresponding section in Scott’s book.
    • Full disclosure – I haven’t taken anymore notes from Cornelius’ course.  I watched a lot of the videos on the plane in my travels, but slacked on the notes.  At this point, it’s more of a supplemental course that’ll get me the 35 credits needed.
    • I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique while studying (essentially 25 minute sprints with a 5-10 minute break in between).  It’s been incredibly effective using this technique, especially with the way I’m studying.  Since I’m studying by Process Group, each section is fairly small, so the pomodoro technique is perfectly suited for the small sections.  I suggest anyone following my process to also use pomodoro.
03/03/19:
  • Starting today, I’m implementing the “New Plan”. I’ll be reading through Rita’s book based on the chapters by Process Group.
  • I’ll also be reading through Scott’s PMP Master Prep book along with it. Which likely means I’ll read the chapter in Rita’s book, the corresponding chapter from Scott, etc etc.
  • I’ll keep this post updated as I move along. Let’s Rock N Roll!
02/25/19:
  • Up through 2/25/19, I was running with the old plan, and reading through Rita’s book, and watching Cornelius’ videos in sequential order. I read through the first 3 chapters, and took notes along the way.
    • You can find my notes here
    • P.S. – these are my raw notes, exactly as they are as I studied. I made notes along the way for takeaways, potential advice, etc.  I may eventually clean things up, but I figured I would share the raw notes as I move through things.
    • P.S.S. – Sometimes when I type, I have a habit of typing what I’m thinking. I curse as much in my head as I do with my mouth, so you may run across that.  I’m not sorry.

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