Fresh. Fit. Focused.: Creating a study schedule


Melissa Schmitz, Asst. Opinion Editor

If you’re like most people, you don’t have a specific study schedule set up. You do work when it comes, study right before tests, maybe markdown deadlines, and improvise most of it. That is all fine and well, and certainly can work for some people. But for others, this method is too disorganized and studying becomes frantic and panic-stricken, especially if mixed with procrastination. So what can you do to fix this conundrum?

Start with a general schedule

Simply make a large table in Microsoft Word with times down the side and days across the top. You can make the time increments as big or small as you like. First, put down your classes, then your work hours if you have them, and finally add in mealtimes, sleep/wake times, or anything else you feel should be acknowledged as blocked time. Be honest with yourself. This is your basic template.

Analyze your workload

At this point in the semester you should have a rough idea of your workload. Go through your syllabi and/or planner to figure out the type of work your classes require [i.e., reading, practice problems, papers, flashcards, etc.], as well as the approximate time it takes to finish them, and a make a list for each class. Now you have a schedule, a list of general tasks you need to complete, and approximated times for those tasks.

Create personal study halls

You can be as specific or vague as you wish, but pick times of the day to complete your tasks every week and put them on your schedule. For example, you might choose to do calculus homework in the Den on Thursdays 1:30-2:30 p.m., and then meet with some classmates in the library to go over them on Mondays 12:00-2:00 p.m. If you have a hard time adhering to a schedule like this, ask your friends to meet with you to do the same homework. As a bonus you will have people to ask questions and collaborate with as well as people to keep you on track. Just be sure you can maintain enough focus to actually get things done.

Time the work you do

While not required, this is certainly recommended. When I do repetitive tasks, such as readings, I use a stopwatch app to time how long it takes me to get things done, and subsequently write it down in a notebook. This will allow you to discern how much time you actually need to spend on tasks. Once you have enough data, average up the times. You may find that you overestimated how long it takes you to do practice problems or that you underestimated how much time you need to finish a lab report. With this information you can now allocate time where it’s needed. This may potentially open up extra free time in your schedule!

Make sure you take breaks

Not everyone is a gunner, but anyone can burn themselves out if they don’t take enough breaks. Yes, you may feel so focused and pumped that you can plow through hours of studying, but don’t. Especially when it’s crunch time for tests, taking a five minute break every 25 to 55 minutes is worth it. Just make sure the break is nothing distracting. Use that time to meditate, hit the restroom, drink some water or fuel up with a snack. Focus is valuable, so don’t waste it on Facebook for 20 minutes.

The better you plan your time, the less that is wasted. And the less time that is wasted is more time to do relaxing or fun activities with your friends! Keep calm and study on.