How to study and plan like a pro

27 February 2024

We are all told we should study efficiently. But what does that truly mean? How can you plan, organize and study effectively if no one teaches you? In this article you will find several tips that might help you with planning, scheduling, organizing and studying!

1. Learn how to use your calendar wisely.
One way to ensure that you are using your time well is by scheduling it wisely. Many of us have either a digital or physical calendar, but we may not use it as sufficiently as we can. You can create an overview by not only scheduling your classes and social engagements in your calendar, but really schedule everything. Put your study sessions in your calendar as well, the time you need for eating, the time you want to block for me-time etc. This way you have a clear overview of where your time is going. Sometimes we crawl into bed at the end of the day and feel like time passed too quicky. We simply do not recall what we did with it. By having a very clear schedule at hand, you are setting yourself up for structure and success!

2. Set goals for your study sessions.
One way to create more structure and purpose to your study time is by writing a little list of goals. What do you want to get done today? Put the most important tasks first and work your way down from there. It helps to break big tasks into smaller tasks as well. For example, if you need to do research for your thesis or group project, do not write down “do research on topic X”. Write it down as the main title and then break this down into little steps. For example, per website, book or article you need to read or find. This way studying becomes more manageable and you will not forget some smaller things you were supposed to do!

3. Practice “time-blocking”.
Once you have upgraded your calendar and schedule to its fullest potential, you are going to break down each time period of your day into smaller blocks of dedicated time. For example, if you have a study session planned on Tuesday from 11:00-16:00, you should divide this in separate hours. For each hour you decide what part of your goals and tasks will get your focus. Multitasking from one task to another will end up draining you faster. By blocking time for specific subjects and tasks you will create another sense of overview and structure for yourself.

4. Use technology wisely.
As much as we love our little gadgets, they can also be very distracting. Luckily, we have lots of functions and applications that allow us to be less distracted from our technology. When you have a study session, it might be smart to turn off your notifications for that amount of time. Choose music or sounds that might stimulate your brain rather than distracting it. This could be binaural beats, instrumental music, frequency music or simply brown or white noise.

5. Allow yourself to rest and recharge.
As much as the productivity is needed to get your studying done, you will not be able to study and function optimally when you are not giving yourself time to rest and recharge. During a deadline period, try to get enough sleep and stick to a sleep schedule. As much as things need to get done, it helps immensely to go to bed around the same night every day and wake up around the same time. Another way of including rest throughout the day is to set some reminders or alarm clocks for when you need to take a break. Staring at your screen all day can be very bad for your eyes and nervous system. Make sure you take a few 5-15 minutes breaks during the day where you practice some breathing exercises, go outside or let your eyes rest (so away with those screens!).

6. Seek support from others.
If you are struggling with motivation or sticking to a routine and your schedule, perhaps it might be good to create an optimal studying environment for yourself. This can be done by seeking others who need to focus as much as you. There are plenty of places where you can be surrounded by other people studying. Besides this it might be fun to start a study group or find one. And last but not least, do not be afraid to ask your classmates, teachers or tutors for help. Community is just as important as being able to do things alone. There is no shame in not knowing something. You got this!