As a student, you must learn to manage your own time effectively to maximize your productivity and results without getting too stressed. Creating a study schedule for yourself is a great way to set goals and structure your time so that you get a good balance between work, play, and rest.
In this blog post, we will teach you how to create a study schedule that really works by helping you identify the times at which you study best.
What is the best time to study?
Well, that all depends on you and your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are natural, 24-hour cycles that are a part of your body’s built-in clock. Your internal clock takes its cues from the environment around you, especially light and darkness. One of the most important things your circadian rhythm regulates is your sleep-wake cycle.
You might have heard the expressions “early bird” and “night owl,” which refer to people’s rising and productivity habits. Early birds like to get up first thing in the morning and get things done, while night owls sleep in and work later in the day. Which are you? As a student, you need to find out so you can get the most out of your day.
Of course, your circumstances will also have an impact on when you can study. Perhaps you are studying while working a full- or part-time job, or maybe you are raising a family, and you can only study during the evenings. If that is the case, don’t worry! There are advantages to studying both during the day and at night.
Benefits of studying during the day
- Your circadian rhythm will be more balanced; anthropologically speaking, we are supposed to be awake when it’s light and sleep when it’s dark.
- There is more natural light, which will help you focus better versus artificial light. It’s also less strenuous for your eyes.
- Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, there will be a time during the day when you are at your most alert. It’s a good idea to pay attention to when that is, so you can really take advantage of it.
- You and your friends can study together, enabling you to ask them questions or work through tricky problems as a group.
Benefits of studying at night
- Typically, things are quieter and more relaxed at night, so if you are good at self-discipline, you might find you can get more done then. Just resist the temptation to turn on the television, and open your books instead!
- Everything else is out of the way, meaning you can concentrate exclusively on your work. If you’re juggling studying with employment or family commitments, make sure you have a break earlier in the evening, eat a good dinner, and then sit down to do your coursework with fresh eyes. The distance will do you a lot of good, promise.
So, as you can see, there is no one best time to study. It’s all about finding out the best time to study for you.
Once you’ve worked that out, you can use that information to create a study schedule that works for you, using our top 3 tips below.
How to create a study schedule that really works
1. Set (bitesize) goals.
It is very important to set manageable objectives for yourself to know what you are working towards, but in a way that your to-do list doesn’t look too daunting.
At the start of term, your schedule will probably be more general. Timetable in your classes and then block out designated study times to do the readings, summarize lecture notes, etc. However, as exam season looms, you might want to get more specific about how you spend your time. Use the syllabus and previous exam papers to see what you’ll need to know, then make a study schedule covering all those topics ahead of the test.
2. Structure your time.
Once you have identified your goals, sit down and block out time in your planner or on your calendar to study as suggested above. Knowing when you study best and at what times you can study will really help with this. You will be able to plan work for when you are most alert and have fewer distractions around you.
Even if it looks like you don’t have a lot of time at first glance, we’re sure we can help you find some now. After all, you don’t have to study for six, seven, eight hours at a stretch. That hour break between classes may not seem like much, but if you focus, you’ll be able to check something off your list during that time. Hit the library and consolidate your notes from the lecture you’ve just attended, or else get a head start on your homework.
3. Block out time for breaks.
Productivity experts have been studying the cycle of human concentration for decades. And although there’s no definitive answer to the question of how long we can focus (because we’re all different), the general consensus is that your brain starts to switch off around the 90-minute mark.
Therefore, it is essential to schedule regular breaks when studying to aid concentration and help you avoid burnout. Those blocks will also give you something to look forward to while you study and hopefully improve your focus because you know you’ve got a designated break coming up.
For optimum focus, you might want to try studying for forty-five minutes at a time, giving yourself a fifteen-minute break every hour. During your break time, get up, move around, have a snack, then get back to work. It’s easier to return to your books after a short break than a long one, after all!
Thinking about further study?
Not sure if you have the time?
One of the great benefits of online learning is that you can study from anywhere at any time. Check out the range of online degree courses offered by EU Business School and consult this post for further information about our virtual learning environment and support services for remote students.