Hectic times call for meticulous planning! Whether you are in the midst of midterms or finals or just have a particularly heinous week, creating a detailed calendar can help lower your stress and make sure you get your work done.
Here are my tips to creating a realistic study schedule.
1) Overestimate the time each task will take
While it may be tempting to schedule activities, classes, and appointments back to back to back, this isn't realistic. It takes time to walk to new locations. A physics assignment that you think will take one hour could take two. A writing assignment that should take 30 minutes could take an hour. Study schedules go awry very quickly when your allotted time for a task runs out, and you are left with work still to do. Take the time you think a task will take you (let's say 1 hour) and add half that time to your estimate (in this case, 30 minutes) to create your estimated amount of time an assignment should take. So now, you will block off 90 minutes in your study schedule for that assignment. If you still don't finish, program in an hour sometime during the day to catch up on uncompleted work. The important part here is to not get too caught up on one task that you forget about the rest of the work you still need to do. If you have extra time, take a break, or start working on your next task.
2) Be flexible
Unplanned events are bound to interrupt your flawless study schedule. After you finish dealing with the unplanned, quickly correct your schedule and modify. Don't let one event completely derail you. Still leave room for breaks!
3) Allow for generous breaks
The Atlantic has a super interesting article that suggests that the ideal work-break time consists of 52 minutes working and then a 17 minute break. In my experience, this works rather well. Give or take a few minutes, schedule in an hour for chemistry. Then schedule in a specific break you want to take. Time to call a friend on the phone. Time to make a snack. Time to go get a coffee. Time to watch half a tv episode. Give your brain time to rest!
4) Go digital
For me, it's easier to be flexible and make adjustments on a digital calendar where you can move around events with the click of a button. No erasing or whiteout necessary! There's also no worry of losing your study schedule and calendar. It's always there! Just make sure you bring a charger with you.
7) Be very specific
The first picture of a calendar has a giant X through it. Why? Not only does it not leave room for breaks and isn't color coded, but it doesn't describe the task you are trying to accomplish. Instead of "Stats," write the specific assignment. I would write "Stats: Problem Set 1 #1-4." This way, I have something concrete to work towards. I am also breaking up all of my Stats work into a manageable, bite-sized chunk.
8) Prioritize smart
Assignments that are due in two weeks should (hopefully!) find some time in your study schedule; however, sometimes that's unrealistic. The tasks that are due tomorrow, should be the tasks you put first in your schedule. If need be, schedule in a short and easy-to-accomplish task first to help you gain some momentum, but don't let too much of the day go by without programming in time to do the most urgent tasks. Long-term assignments should come after.
9) Minimize distractions
Study schedules don't work if you are talking to friends in the library, Facebook stalking a friend, or listening to music with lyrics. Find a quiet place to concentrate on your work, and give yourself the chance to actually stick with your schedule.
10) Add in exercise, meals, and sleep
Most importantly, don't neglect self-care in your study schedule. Even if you can't make it to the gym, schedule in a 20 minute walk. I love to walk on the big hill outside of my library at school. It takes me 20 minutes to walk up and down it 3 times. When I come back to the library, I feel like I had the opportunity to clear my mind and refocus (walking is an awesome break idea!) Additionally, in between tasks, don't forget to eat. Your brain doesn't function at full capacity if you aren't eating and fueling your body. Finally, try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep and eat three meals a day. You'll focus better. I promise.
Was this helpful? Comment below, and let me know what you think!