Study schedules are often at the top of most students’ to-do list at the beginning of the academic year, but much like New Year’s Resolutions, are soon tried and forgotten within a month. This is often because students are trying to do too much study, too fast, and not leaving enough room for all of the things that truly matter. This often results in unnecessary burn-out and leads to the student abandoning the schedule they so meticulously crafted with the best of intentions.
So, how do you write a study schedule that is not only effective but is realistic enough for the average student to stick to?
1. Write a flexible schedule, not a single study schedule
I recommend creating a study schedule template on either Microsoft Word or Google Docs, like the one pictured below. It is important that your schedule is capable of being edited on the fly, allowing it to be updated as your week evolves. For example, the time you scheduled for English study might be interrupted by a phone call from your best friend, or by your family insisting you have to watch Game of Thrones with them or risk spoilers. Sometimes, life gets in the way and that is perfectly fine! All you need to do is edit your schedule to reflect the change. The most important thing is not depriving yourself, but rather keeping your time accountable. By allowing your schedule to remain flexible, you increase your chances of ensuring it remains relevant!
2. Create a basic template based on your preferences
To start creating your schedule, create a basic template using the table tool on your chosen program. It is a good idea to start with eight columns for each day of the week, and add each row to represent a different time of the day (either progressing in 15, 30 or 60-minute intervals). It is a good idea to start at the time you usually wake up and to end the schedule at your bedtime.
3. Fill in your commitments first
The biggest mistake students often make when creating a study schedule is starting with their study hours, and then trying to fit their lives around studying. Instead, you should try and do the opposite, filling in the study in the blank spaces around your life, as this will prevent burn-out and reduce stress. Include your commitments, from basic human functions like eating, showering and travel times, through to working a part-time job, extra-curricular activities, sport, socialisation, and Netflix addictions.
4. Fill in the blank spaces with study
It is recommended that you aim for between three to five hours of study per subject. As you can see from the sample schedule included above, this is highly achievable given a commitment to using your time productively. In this schedule, the student not only manages to study five hours per subject a week but also manages to do the following:
- Attend an 18th Birthday
- Go to the movies with friends
- Have lunch with friends
- Work 10 hours at their part-time job
- Attend a Yoga Class
- Go for a morning run three times a week
- Attend a three-hour rehearsal for the school production
- Attend a Debating Meeting
- Go to a Doctor’s Appointment
- Do Chores
- Watch T.V
- Browse the Internet
Or in other words, function like a perfectly normal human being with varied interests and hobbies! There is no need to sacrifice your life for study, so long as you are willing to work towards being your most productive self!