Actually getting down to it and start labbing was probably the hardest part for me. Since you are at the computer it’s very easy to start looking at funny cat pictures or something else when you should be studying. I had read some blog posts on how much time it usually takes to pass the CCIE, and how much time you need to spend studying every day etc. I wanted to complete my CCIE in 1,5 years, and I knew I would only be studying on my free time during nights and weekends. Some sources says the preparation for the lab part is around 1000 hours. I set a goal to study an average of 2 hours per day, which I’m happy to say I did almost achieve 🙂
2 hours may not sound that much, but if you skip one day you have 4 hours the next day to keep the average up. Also I find that I loose concentration after much more than that, and I wanted to keep my study sessions efficient. I also still had my full-time day job to think of and I didn’t want to overwork myself. I felt the 2 hours average worked well for me, but if you can study more each day and keep it up that’s great. I don’t think much less than 2 hours per day is good however, since at some point you start forgetting things you read previously and if you only study 1 hour per day for 3 years or something it will probably be harder to keep everything fresh in memory.
I was pretty good at keeping track of my time using an app in my phone, this is a picture of the recorded time in the app Study Checker between 2015-07-04 and 2016-09-30:
My first attempt at the lab was at the end of May, and while it is true I took a break after that and didn’t study as much during the summer, I still did put in some hours that I did unfortunately not record. I think if were to include that and also the trips to the three labs attempts the total time should be close to 800 hours. I got an average of roughly 1h 45min during the entire period of 455 days. As you can see from the graph, I spent 4 hours studying many days and even up to 8 hours on a few occasions.
I had to change my old habits a bit, I started waking up at 07:00 on weekends to study and going to bed the same time every day. No more late weekend nights! I tried to study for 4-5 hours on the weekends if it ways a study weekend, and then I had weekends when I did something else and didn’t study very much at all. It’s still good to get some reading in however, so this is where I got use of the Safari Books Online app in my smartphone to do maybe 30 min of reading here and there if I was traveling someplace for example.