The beginning of a course can be quite overwhelming and can let you feel a bit lost. Where to begin and what to do the following weeks? Making a study schedule and creating a a clear, productive study routine for yourself gives structure and will lead to more discipline. In this way, you will get more done in less time and procrastinate less, as studying becomes more of a habit. I will give you some tricks in creating in an productive study routine and share my own study routine.
Time Management: Make a clear planner
A good study routine starts with a clear planning. Begin with taking a good look at the important dates of the course/subject. When are deadlines? When is the exam? Write these down in your planner for a good overview. After that, take a look at and plan the lectures, group work, etc.
Make a global planning
Plan the readings, summarizing, exercising, writing the assignments globally (preferably on the computer). This does not have to be really precise, as you do not know how much time all the tasks are going to take. Still, it is important to have a global overview of what your upcoming weeks are going to look like. While planning, be realistic and rather plan too much time for tasks than too little
Plan activities unrelated to studying
Also plan and do activities unrelated to studying between deadlines, study days and in the evening. Alternating with studying and fun activities will keep you motivated and will avoid getting overworked.
At the beginning of every week, make the tasks for the upcoming week more concrete and make a clear planning. While doing this, take a look at the previous week: what did you not finish last week and do have to catch up? Does the planning have to be more realistic or not?
Of course, you can also make a planning per day. However, it is good to keep an overview of the entire week, so in my opinion weekly plannings are the most effective.
Productive, active studying
Look at your most efficient way of studying
What is the most efficient way of studying for this course and what is the learning style you work the most effectively? Exercising, summarizing, reading or something else? Having this figured out, can save a lot of study time. Keep in mind that active studying is more efficient than passive studying. In this article, I give you tips on how to study productive and active. Productive studying: study active
Set study goals
Setting goals increases productivity, as you work towards something, which gives motivation. Setting goals also gives more structure and therefore discipline in our life. If you would like to read more tips on how to set (study) goals: read this article. Setting (study) goals
Stay on top op lectures
Try to stay on top of lectures. Go to all lectures and make sure your notes are clear and complete. If not, do some research yourself at the internet after the lecture or ask someone.
Make studying a daily routine; study habit
Make reading/summarizing/exercising a habit. Preferable a daily habit at a certain time, but this obviously depends on both your day and course.
Alternate your ways of studying. For example, one hour of summarizing followed by one hour of exercising, a break, and then the same over again. In this way you get less bored and more focused. If you have more than one course, alternate with studying these courses, also to increase focus and avoid quitting studying because of the boredom.
Taking breaks is essential to be productive. It can be separated into short breaks and long breaks, which are both important. More tips on how to plan study breaks and what to do in them, can you read in this article: Study breaks
My productive study routine
It took me some time to figure out my most productive study routine. In the end, it is also important to stay realistic and not to ask to much of yourself. Therefore, it may seem that my study routine is not extremely productive, but this is what works for me. This is also the most important tip for you, find out what works best for you!
At my university, I have blocks of 8 weeks with 2 courses and blocks of 4 weeks with 1 course. My study routine depends on the length of the course.
Block of 8 weeks
Getting to know the course by reading course guide and watching the introduction lectures.
First, I look at the deadlines and exam, and then I will make a planning for the whole course with these deadlines and exam, but also the lectures, meetings with other students and teacher, practicals, etc. Also, I look what will be the best studying techniques for that course; what kind of summary (or not at all), mainly exercising, mainly assignments or something else?
Week 2 – 3
Following lectures, working on my summary and starting on the assignments (depending on the course). All a bit at a relaxed pace and I will do more things unrelated to studying.
Week 4 – 6
These weeks I start studying more. I usually realize I am a bit behind on my schedule of summarizing, so I have some catch up work to do. Working harder on my assignments and starting to really for the exam are things that have to be done. Of course, I still do things besides studying (meeting up with friends, do fun things), but not as much as before.
Week 7: Hard studying week. Most days, I will just study (almost) the whole day. It is obviously important to keep a balance with studying and leisure time, but if it is hard course, it feels necessary to study that much.
Exam week. Also know as the stress week. I try to sleep enough (at least 7 hours every night) and not get too stressed, as this will both negatively affect how you perform on your exam, but this is easier said than done.
Block of 4 weeks
Also getting to know the course by following the introduction course and reading the course guide. And make a planner for the upcoming weeks. As the period is short, making a clear (and realistic!) planning is important. It is a short course, so I have to study immediately quite hard, which I sometimes forget.
Summarizing, exercising, following lectures, but not as much as I should do with an exam in two weeks.
Week 3: What, exams are next week already?? Study!! This is always a bit of a ‘panic week’. I realized I should have studies more the past two weeks, so I have some catch up work to do. Thus, this week is all about studying; I try to finish my summary while following the last lectures and start to actually start the summary.
Exam week. Same story as eight week block. Stress!