Creating a study schedule can be difficult. Creating a study schedule and sticking to it, is even harder.
I can easily admit, for the longest time, I didn’t bother with a study schedule because I just couldn’t stick to it. I’d end up procrastinating or delaying doing my work and then the schedule was ruined. Luckily, I’ve since managed to figure out a realistic study plan and have managed to make it work for me, so I’m sharing with you my tips and tricks on creating a study schedule that you’ll stick to!
There are four things you need to remember when creating a study schedule:
- Be realistic. The number one mistake people make when making a study schedule is not being real and honest with themselves. Scheduling in long blocks of study after a long day of classes isn’t realistic; you’ll probably be tired, drained and brain dead. Instead, know how you work best, don’t overschedule to cram more in and be honest with yourself – will you really spend an entire Saturday cramming for that exam? or is it more likely you’ll procrastinate for half the morning before saying “screw it” and throwing your study schedule straight to the dark depths of failure?
- Allow time for breaks. A lot of people don’t factor in break time when making a schedule. A lot of people also consider things like travel time between school and home or dinner time a break, which I personally don’t agree with. You need about 15 minutes every hour of doing something fun, something completely unrelated to studying. This way you’ll stay on task when you need to and sticking to your schedule doesn’t seem like such a chore.
- It takes time. You aren’t going to be able to stick to your schedule 100% straight away. You might go great for a couple of days and then, you’re spending the day in bed stuck on a Youtube loop instead of chipping away at the revision you should be doing. It happens to all of us and it’s usually at this point, people throw their schedule out the window because they’ve also forgotten to do point number one and have overloaded their schedule; meaning there’s no room for error or rescheduling. My best tip to avoid this is to (for the first few weeks at least) schedule in some time for doing work you’ve procrastinated on. This way you won’t throw out your schedule and if you have done all your work, you get to enjoy some time off!
- One strict schedule will not work for an entire term or semester. Writing out one schedule and expecting it to work for an entire twelve or so weeks is not going to work. Each week will be different and have different tasks and struggles. Workloads for subjects change, the number of hours you need to dedicate to certain subjects will also change. You’re much more likely to stick to a study schedule that is flexible and this might mean reviewing it every week or two and changing things to suit your needs.
Now onto creating your schedule! There are a few different ways to approach this – hour by hour, a list of tasks to do for the day or even a strict Pomodoro inspired schedule. Personally, I’ve learnt that using a strict schedule doesn’t work for me, so I use my planner and schedule daily tasks on a week by week basis.
Here’s how I create my study schedule:
- List out all my subjects. Under each subject, I write out tasks I need complete. Maybe it’s chapters to be read, pages to revise, exercises I need to do or assignments/essays I need to complete. I list it all out so I have a clear view of just how much work I need to get done for the week and can roughly see how much time to dedicate to each subject.
- Organise these tasks by importance. If they’re due earlier, they need to be done earlier. If the content might be harder for me to grasp or it’s something I know I’ll struggle with, I list it as important. This way I can make sure these tasks are completed when they need to be.
- Look at the extracurriculars, personal plans, classes and lectures and other things I have for the week ahead. If I have a particularly busy day, I try to avoid scheduling in too much study in the name of being realistic. I know I won’t study if I’m tired. Simple as that.
- Start scheduling in tasks for each day. As I’m doing this I like to roughly guess how long a particular task might take me, so I don’t overload myself. I also give myself a variety of tasks and subjects for the day (unless there’s a single big task that needs to be tackled) as this means I’m less likely to get bored and procrastinate. Another good tip for this is to try and pair simple tasks with ones you aren’t looking forward to. Completing simple tasks first means you’ll feel productive and motivated to keep going, making the not-so-fun task a little bit easier to begin.
- Schedule in a few hours of the week for catching up on work or things you forgot to schedule in. Often times you’ll find you’ll have added work from class or something that you didn’t expect to get. Giving yourself a little bit of time to work on this means you won’t be squeezing it into already super busy days. It also means if you have to move things around to squeeze it in (sometimes it’s inevitable), you have a bit of leeway with it.
Sticking to your study schedule is actually surprisingly simple. All you really need to do is follow the tips above, review your schedule often to make sure that it’s working for you (and if it’s not, change it!) and remember that you’re basically trying to set yourself a routine and falling into that takes some time. Also, remember, it’s your study schedule. You can change whatever you want when you want to. Just make sure you get the work done!
Do you use a study schedule? Or are you a bit more laid back in your approach to studying? If you do, how do you set out your study schedule? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it!