I think that it is really important to make a good planing before getting started with the lab training. A good planing will help you to keep the rhythm along your journey. It is really important to know how to make breaks and to relax your brain. What I did before starting is to make a one year planing following INE´s instructor Petr Lapukhov training plan for the CCIE R&S V4.0. In order to make this plan I used MS Project. It gives an overview over the whole training which force your to meet your goals and keep the pace. For example if everything goes as planed I will take the lab in mid of december 2012. Of course there will always be some delay but I will try as much as I can to stick to the plan.
The other day I found a handy script on Cisco EEM scripting community that can automatically archive the running-config if a a change has been made to it.
The archive feature must be configured first and you should also define an EEM variable for the script to work.
The script use the “Configuration Replace and Rollback” IOS feature to know if a change has been made by comparing the running-config the previous archive. If any differences the device will archive the config and it will be listed as most recent in the output of show archive.
Here is the link to the TCL script from Cisco: Archive_Config_if_Changes.tar.gz