study schedule

Top 9 Tips to Create the Ultimate Study Schedule

By Carson King
Updated: December 8, 2020

What I if told you
You the read first line wrong
Same the with second
And also the third!

If you are confused, go back and slowly read the last paragraph out loud. Our minds hold immense power—enough to change what you see and make the untrue true. Instead of lacking knowledge, we often lack perception. We see what we want to see—even without knowing it.

While these nine tips for study schedules are enough to turn the dumbest of us into the shrewdest professors, I’m asking you to do something different. Especially if you are creating a law school study schedule or a bar exam study schedule.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
– Stephen Covey

Take this opportunity to do something special. 

Whether it’s actually “following the steps,” or taking notes on the following, I promise you’ll thank me in the future. Even for the “tips” you immediately recognize, try considering them in a new light.

Who knows?

Maybe the answer you’ve been looking for is the one you already know.

당신은 구글 번역을 사용했습니다!

1. Consider all possibilities

“A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” – Frank Zappa

When creating something as important as a study routine, it’s important that you understand all the resources at hand. Creating a successful schedule goes far beyond just filling in your calendar.

A system that accounts for all variables—as complex as it may be—is the only one that can survive the bitter colds of boredom, the blandness of repetitiveness, and the lack of motivation. Such resources may include:

  • Chronobiology
  • Spaced reviews
  • Atomic habits
  • Toilet study vs planned study
  • Exercise
  • Learning styles
  • Organization (notes, desk, phone)
  • Frodo Baggins
  • Study groups
  • Active vs passive tasks
  • Helpful apps
  • Brain food
  • Different “study zones”
  • Power of sleep
  • Rule of 52 and 17

(I doubt you read the entire list, because you didn’t realize I put the word Frodo Baggins in there).

study schedule

Anyway. This blog is a buffet. Take your sweet time and taste whatever looks interesting. Experiment, have some fun, and go wild.

Again, no pressure. Follow your heart.

2. Start with the end in mind

“Always begin with the end in mind.” – Ellen Muth

What does your best study schedule look like?

If you can’t even imagine what it looks like, how are you going to create one?

It isn’t just saying, “I’d like to study 5 hours a day.” NO! It’s meant to be a SOUL-RIVETING experience. You shouldn’t be the same person afterwards. It’s about creating a vision so clear, so compelling, so awesome, that you’re excited to wake up each morning.

Truly, what do you want?

Here’s some sample questions to help plan your best schedule:

  • What does your free time look like?
  • What are you doing in the mornings?
  • When do you sleep?
  • What grades do you want?
  • What subjects will you study, and for how long?
  • How do you keep yourself accountable?
  • What rewards will you receive?
  • What can you do to push yourself when you’re lacking motivation?

study schedule

Again, this is a buffet. Pick and choose whatever you want. A few clear answers are infinitely better than a thousand vague ones. Compare the following answers to this question: what does your best morning routine look like?

a) Wake up early, make a smoothie, and study before school.

b) Wake up at 6:30 every morning (except weekends). Take a shower first thing in the morning. Make green smoothie with protein powder. Review my day’s goals, study for math, and leave at 8am.

Pretty obvious! When you begin with the end in mind, your brain helps you. The brain is a great lover of clarity, and it will support your goals with it’s own problem-solving software. Giving your brain “vague” problems and goals is like swallowing a coconut and hoping your digestive system can deal with it.

Please chew your plans out.

The extra time will make-or-break your plans.

By keeping your mind clear, it’ll function as a clear telescope. The smallest amount of confusion is enough to blue the lens. Keep the glass clean. Your brain is your greatest ally. Remember to play by its rules.

3. Set the foundation

“The mark of a great man is the one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” – Brandon Sanderson

Your life is full of variables. Some are set (school) while others are flexible (video games).

School is fixed. 

Video games are flexible. 

Duh.

When you’re ready to “get dirty” (that’s what she said) and actually begin creating your study schedule, start with the elephant in the room. Fill the “jar” of your time with the largest stones (school) and work back to stuff that really fits anywhere (Clash of Clans) Necessities may include:

  • Eating
  • Personal Hygiene
  • School
  • Religion (if an affiliate)
  • Work
  • Other responsibilities

study schedule

Often, these are the things outside your control. You have no control over your class schedule. After you jot these down into your calendar, you’ll see how much time you “really” have to do everything else (homework, Among Us).

Some days will have more time than others. Take this into account, and plan accordingly.

4. Make a process, not a goal

“Fall in love with systems.” – James Clear

Don’t make goals.

Make progress.

You can’t force a flower to bloom. The only way to “make” a flower bloom is to focus on the water, sunlight, and soil—things very different from an actual flower. This dilemma between process and product is explained very well in Atomic Habits. Goals themselves have a few problems:

  • Winners and losers have the same goals (not the same systems)
  • Achieving a goal is only a momentary change
  • Goals can restrict happiness: “I’ll-be-happy-when . . .” scenario
  • Goals can block further progress, once that goal itself is completed

Goals are not bad. They provide direction, a “destination,” along with a clear vision for success.

So where do goals “cross the line?”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.

Goals by nature aren’t meant to be processes, or habitual. They’re one-time events that, while a wonderful map, do very little to actually achieve that goal. The scope on the rifle doesn’t actually shoot the bullet.

Goals are the scopes.

Systems are the bullets.

The difference between winners and losers are the systems they have in place.

Fall in love with setting systems, not goals. Processes, habits, and cycles are the gasoline for your roadtrip to success.

5. Fueling the fires of motivation

“There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.” – Brian Tracy

study schedule

Jim Kwik, author of limitless, gives us a single formula for motivation:

Reasons x energy x small simple steps = motivation. 

For now, this formula is more important than E = M C ^2 .

Even with the correct process, systems, and time-schedules set in place, you couldn’t do anything without energy. Even the most leisurely, comfortable, two-minutes of study will become painful if you lack purpose.

List your “reasons” and review regularly.

Divide your tasks into small increments, and track accordingly.

Remember that scene in The Lord of the Rings when Sam and Frodo are on Mt. Doom? Tired and exhausted, the Hobbits remember the Shire. Their purpose. “Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon . . . do you remember the taste of strawberries?” 

So when all hope seems lost, remember your purpose. If it works in Mordor, it works in the classroom.

  • List your reasons. Review them often.
  • When things are difficult, start with the easiest step possible. Don’t say “read for 45 minutes” but rather, “read one sentence.” It’s much easier to keep yourself doing something, rather than starting something.
  • Make sure you have enough energy! Good sleeping and eating habits are some of the best investments you can make.

Friedrich Nietzsche said it best, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” 

6. The focus principle

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” – George Lucas

study schedule

Distractions cost the United States of America over 650 billion dollars each year. It’s literally insane.

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • Distractions increases the time to accomplish a task
  • Distraction causes 2x more stress than focused work
  • As much as 90% of all illness is stress related (according to NASD) so distraction leads to more illness
  • Destruction promotes “shallow” work
  • The average worker wastes 60 hours each month at the workplace (720 hours, or 30 days a year)
  • Interruptions cause 2x the amount of errors during work

The costs are immense. It’s not just money either—distracted driving killed 2,841 people in 2018 alone.

Still unconvinced?

The average person has an 8-second attention span (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). The average goldfish has a 9-second attention span.

Still unconvinced? If you are, please visit your local mental therapist (this blog is not sponsored).

As Sun Tzu once said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” 

We don’t need a list of “distractions” do we? We’re all adults, we know what distractions are. Distractions are thousands of small, addictive acts, that are “salted-and-peppered” throughout our days by the World Elite, in the name of Capitalism.

In 2018, the average American’s digital information was worth a grand total of $202 . . . every click, scroll, and new tab opened increased that number. The same distractions that cost American workplaces billions of dollars a year are equally making the very companies that distract you billions of dollars a year.

Understand now?

The way you do anything is how you do everything. Students in particular, deserve to invest time in themselves, not mega companies like Facebook or Google. Use social media when you must, but never let them infiltrate your study time. That’s where your magic happens. Keep it safe. Keep focused.

7. High density fun vs low density fun

“Let your high-density fun create a deadline that propels you into focused work.”
– Thomas Frank

study schedule

Rewards are among the most ancient methodologies to promote good behavior. Not only is it essential to your habits (cue → craving → reaction → reward) but it’s also healthy! Mixing up your day with chill-and-vibe filled activities can make those intense study sessions worth the extra mile. The promise of Call of Duty can drive even the most insane student to the title of Valedictorian.

Not all rewards are created equal, however. Some (as you will see) are far more effective than others. As they say: play smart, not hard.

Productivity expert Thomas Frank divides fun into 2 categories:

High Density Fun:

  • Video games
  • Movies
  • Social time
  • Reading

Low Density Fun:

  • Scrolling through social media
  • Most of YouTube
  • Tik Tok
  • Texting

The difference between the two, is like eating ramen noodles multiple times throughout the day, or waiting for a nice steak dinner at 6pm.

Eating ramen (like Facebook) is easy. It’s quick, cheap, and fills you up . . . a bit. While ramen tastes great on the spot, it feels gross after, you know? Who else wishes they would’ve spent the time to make an enchilada instead? 

Most people.

Instead of drowning in “online ramen,” plan to have a time dedicated to fun . Playing Black Ops with your homies is 100x better than scrolling through Twitter, CNN, or YouTube for an hour. Not only will it be more satisfying, but you can use this “fun-time” as an attractive reward.

8. Set up a “toilet study” routine

“Make good habits and they will make you.” – Parks Cousins

study schedule

Also known as “TSR,” the Toilet Study Routine is a powerful method to utilize those little “spare” moments throughout the day. These include:

  • At a red light
  • Waiting for your Hot Pocket to microwave
  • (Yes, on the toilet)
  • During extra time in class
  • When you have “nothing else” to do
  • Etc.

There are dozens of these small moments, throughout the day. They’re nearly impossible to plan for. Remember setting a schedule with a traffic jam?

The trick is to “blanket over” these circumstances with a single, regular routine. This “net” will capture the small gems of time you’ve never been able to utilize before. Whether it’s flipping through flashcards, browsing your study app, or simply reviewing when your assignments are due, the rewards are exponential over time.

9. SQ3R

“Your habits will determine your future.” – Jack Canfield

So. Once you’ve set up your prime-study schedule, you probably feel like a Jedi. While you’ve optimized the calendar aspect of “study schedule,” you can also master the studying aspect as well.

A system within a system, so to speak.

SQ3R is not SPQR (for those Percy Jackson fans out there) Rather, it stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review—a method of intense studying. It gives depth to your study, and taps deeper into the core of essential learning.

The steps are as follows:

  • Survey. Begin your study session with a quick glance of your material—the chapter ahead, the questions, etc. You’re basically taking a screenshot of everything on your “agenda.”
  • Question. These give your mind a direction, a focus, and a purpose for study.
  • Read. Duh.
  • Recite. These are like mini-reviews after each page, category, or section. It can take less than 10 seconds.
  • Review. These are like huge—recites after each chapter. Truth be told, most students do not review what they learn. Work smarter, not harder.

As you go and create your “perfect study schedule,” remember that all variables aren’t visible in your calendar. While timing is important, the actual act of studying can also be optimized.

Don’t build the framework but leave the walls unfinished.

BONUS: The takeaway

“Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them.”
– Les Brown

Designing a study routine is a noble, and courageous act. It’s a 900-IQ play that deserves to be in a dozen YouTube videos.

  • Consider all your possibilities. The internet is a vast ocean of information. Don’t be stupid and limit yourself to only this blogpost. Go explore, go experiment!
  • Start with the end in mind
  • Set the foundation (prioritize events)
  • Set processes, not goals
  • Fuel the fires of motivation
  • The focus principle
  • High density fun vs low density fun
  • Set up a “toilet study” routine (TSR)
  • SQ3R (Study, Question, Read, Recite, Review)

Most of you have skimmed to this point.

It’s fine. Most people never read the whole blog post anyways, haha.

Regardless of who you are, you’re here because you want to become a better student, teacher, person, dog-walker—whatever you are. So, remember this little experiment:

What I if told you
You the read first line wrong
Same the with second
And also the third!

Good luck with your ultimate study schedule, and remember to see things from a new angle.

carson king

About the author

Carson King is a person . . . we think. Nothing else is known about him, except that he likes blogs and Korean burritos. Is this his photo? We’re not sure.

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