Create a Study Schedule That Actually Works


To be honest with you, I'm not the most schedule oriented person. I prefer checklists, because they give me more freedom to do things whenever I want. I’m not what you’d call ‘great with time’. A list though, allows me to see all my tasks and check them off as I complete them. On the other hand, that means I prioritize things I want, and neglect things I don't want, to do. Although a list may be practical for tasks that don’t have due-by times, it's definitely not helpful when it comes to studying. I mean, sure it feels great to finish that science lab, due next week, today; but how about studying for the math exam due tomorrow, hmm?

More recently I've begun using a study schedule to better organize my week. This was my saving grace during midterms and I’ve already set up my schedule for this coming semester. The layout allows for me to see exactly what needs to be done and at what time. That way I can schedule my time wisely and make the most of my day. It only takes a little time to set up at the beginning of the week and the rest of the time is on auto-pilot. In essence it's an hour-by-hour guide to getting school work done. To have the most effective study schedule there are some things you need to keep in mind though.

Personally, I use a simple, weekly layout that goes Monday to Sunday. Although I would prefer to keep my weekends free of school, most weekends I do have to finish some assignments. I place Sunday at the end of the week just so I’m not tempted to fill it up with school assignments. To make things easier for you, I’ve included the same Word doc I use as a download. Originally the color scheme was pink only, but my brother now also uses it and I didn’t think he’d appreciate the color choice, so now there’s also a blue option. Grab your sheet and let’s get planning.

Download Pink / Download Blue

Update 1/18/18 - So, I realized that the links to the downloads were broken. I've updated them and they should work. Let me know if there are anymore troubles.

Start off by blocking out your wake-up and bed times. Yes, this is important for a study schedule. One of the main reasons for a study schedule is so you don't have to stay up late, by blocking out the hours that you are asleep you are setting a restriction for how late you can stay up. Aim for a healthy amount of sleep, usually 7-8 hours for adults. No more all-nighters and all the side effects that come with them. Keep in mind, try to keep a consistent schedule. It may seem smart to sleep for four hours during the week and make up for it on the weekend but don't do that to yourself. Trust me, you'll waste your weekends and spend your week as a sleep-deprived zombie.

Once you've blocked off your sleeping hours you'll notice the available time you have to study has shrunk. Don't worry, it's going to get a lot smaller. The next chunk you want to block off is the necessary things like meals, extra-curricular activities, and other events. These are the things that can't be moved around, I mean who would skip lunch to study, right? Not this girl ;) I know how tempting it can be to schedule a six hour history study schedule, but a) you most likely will not be able to focus for that long and b) studying should not take up all your time.

So far we haven't actually touched any of the 'school' part of the schedule. Well, next you'll go ahead and block off your class times. At this point you should have your wake-up and bed times, necessary tasks, and class times blocked off. Your schedule may be more or less full, depending on how much you have on your plate. This may also be a good time to begin strategizing possible study sessions for each subject. For example, I have science class twice a week; that means I either need to plan one long session for both lectures or a smaller one for each.

Finally, go ahead and schedule your study times. Depending on how well you focus, these can range between 10-minutes to hour long sessions. Experiment with different times. You may find that you can go for 90 minutes when it comes to history and only 15 minutes for math. The key here is to set reasonable goals. If you know you can’t study for more than 30 minutes at a time, don’t force yourself. Study breaks are just as important as actually studying because it allows the brain to process and store the new knowledge. Too much studying can overload your brain and we don’t want that to happen. There are even a few things you can do to take your completed schedule to the next level.

1.      Color code your different subjects; it’s fun, visually appealing, and helps you see upcoming tasks at a glance.
2.      Write the exact times down for classes and meetings, so you can be on time.
3.      Use a timer when studying to pace yourself.

Tl;dr: plan your study sessions between social and academic obligations in order to maximize your free time. Always include study breaks. Remember: everything in moderation!
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