Let’s face it: your search history is probably filled with queries like “best study techniques” or “how to focus better.” Most of what you find is either too generic or not tailored to your learning style. We’re here to offer something more substantial — a scientifically-backed guide to crafting the best study routine. Let’s dive in!

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Table of Contents

How to Make a Study Routine

Creating an effective study routine isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Here’s a breakdown to help you tailor a study routine to your unique schedule and academic needs.

  1. Evaluate your schedule: Before building your study routine, closely examine your daily schedule and commitments. When do your classes start and end? Do you have any extracurricular activities? Do you have to work after class? By understanding your daily schedule, you can create a more personalized study routine.
  2. Set realistic goals: Have you ever told yourself that you’d finish reading 10 chapters of your textbook in a single all-nighter? You’re not alone in falling into this lie countless times. That’s why breaking down larger academic goals into smaller, achievable tasks is a must. You need to be able to set specific and realistic goals for each study session.
  3. Plan study blocks: After being honest with yourself about your goals, decide how many hours a day you would dedicate to studying. It could be as short or as long as you want — as long as you guarantee that you can maximize your study time. The quality of your learning is more important than the quantity or amount of hours you put into studying!
  4. Create a distraction-free environment: Spending 10 hours studying is useless if it’s broken up scrolling through social media. Because of this, it is important to minimize distractions during your study sessions. You can do this by finding a quiet, clutter-free space where you can concentrate fully. Turn off your phone and use website blockers like Cold Turkey to maximize productivity.
  5. Organize your study materials: A well-organized set of resources can save you time and stress. Check out our post on the best Notion templates for students for some inspiration.
  6. Prioritize sleep and schedule: Studying is important, but so is your physical health! Your cognitive abilities are directly linked to your wellbeing. Make sure you get enough sleep and fit in some physical activity to keep your mind sharp.
  7. Stay consistent: If you start committing to your planned study schedule as much as possible, it’ll eventually become second nature and make it quicker to dive into a state of deep focus every time.
  8. Be flexible: Life happens, and things don’t always go as planned — and that’s okay! It just means that your routine might need adjustments from time to time. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and learn to adapt to changes in your schedule. If you accidentally missed a study session, relax and just pick up where you left off.

Sample Study Routines to Follow

Morning & Afternoon Study Routine

If you’re an early riser who enjoys soaking up the morning sun, a daytime study routine is perfect for you. Studying in the morning has the added advantage of being in line with our natural body clock since alertness is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon.

Here’s a sample schedule that you can follow:

  • 5:30 AM – 6:15 AM: Rise and shine! Kick-start your day with a healthy breakfast. You can also try to engage in a short meditation or stretching session to feel more awake.
  • 6:15 AM – 6:30 AM: Grab a pen and paper or your digital notepad so that you can set your study goals for the day and specific tasks you need to accomplish.
  • 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM: Time to exercise! You can do any form of physical activity, from light cardio (like walking) to lifting weights in the gym.
  • 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM: First study block (or attend your classes). Start your timer: 25-minute study with a 5-minute break, repeat 4x, then a long break — or use a timer that automatically does it for you.
  • 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Take an extended break. Stretch, grab a snack, and breathe some fresh air. Look away from your screen to minimize eye strain.
  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Second study block (or attend your classes). Start your timer and finish another full Pomodoro session (25-minute study with a 5-minute break, repeat 4x, then a long break).
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch break! This is the perfect time to refuel your body with nourishing food and prep for your afternoon study session.
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Third study block (or attend your classes). Don’t forget to use techniques like active recall and mind mapping (more on that below) to reinforce the concepts you learned in the morning.
  • 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Time for another extended break. Why not walk to a nearby café for a change of scenery, or go to a virtual café?
  • 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Final study block (or attend your classes). Use this final session to consolidate your learning and list areas requiring further attention.
  • 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM: Free time! Reward yourself by unwinding and relaxing after a productive day. Pursue your hobbies, spend time with friends and family, or watch a movie.
  • 9:30 PM – 5:30 AM: Get a good night’s rest to feel fully recharged the next day!

Nighttime Study Routine

Not everyone is made for a daytime study routine. You might just feel more productive at night, or maybe you’ve got daytime commitments like a job or other extracurricular activities. If you’re a night owl and not an early riser, give this sample nighttime study routine a whirl:

  • 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Boost your energy with a late-day workout. This will help set your mood for your upcoming study session.
  • 6:00 PM – 6:15 PM: Grab a pen and paper or your digital notepad to set your study goals for the night and specific tasks you need to accomplish.
  • 6:15 PM – 8:15 PM: First study block. Start your timer and finish a full Pomodoro session (25-minute study with a 5-minute break, repeat 4x, then a long break). Try starting with lighter subjects first to ease yourself into the night.
  • 8:15 PM – 9:00 PM: Dinner time! Have a nutritious meal to fuel yourself for the long night ahead.
  • 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM: Second study block. Start your timer and finish another full Pomodoro session.
  • 11:00 PM – 11:30 PM: Take an extended break. You can even take a power nap if you want to. Just make sure to set an alarm to avoid oversleeping!
  • 11:30 PM – 1:30 AM: Third study block. Start your timer and finish another full Pomodoro session. Try switching to a different subject to keep things interesting!
  • 1:30 AM – 2:00 AM: Relax and recharge for a while. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and have a light snack if you want to.
  • 2:00 AM – 4:00 AM: Final study block. Review the material you studied during the whole night. Why not try to use the Feynman technique to test your learning? (check it out below)
  • 4:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Go to bed and make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Make sure to turn off your devices and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Time to wake up! Sustain your body’s needs by eating your first meal of the day.
  • 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Free time! Ideally, you should engage in activities to help unwind and clear your mind. You should also eat your second meal of the day during this period.

Best Techniques for Your Study Routine

With a general framework in place and some sample routines to try, let’s explore some scientifically-backed techniques to enhance your study routine.

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-tested and community favorite strategy that breaks your study time into 25 minute intervals, followed by short breaks. It helps your brain stay focused and reduces fatigue.

Luckily, you can use dedicated free Pomodoro-focused tools like Flocus to automatically switch between study and break periods instead of winding up a manual timer for each interval.

Don’t know what to do during your study breaks? Here are some Pomodoro break ideas. Also, if you think that the Pomodoro technique isn’t for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best Pomodoro alternatives to try.

Active Recall

Active recall beats passive learning hands down. Instead of simply reading through material, this method challenges you to recall information from memory. In fact, passive learning is considered one of the least effective study methods. Active recall may be challenging to get used to at first, but the amount of retained information you’ll get will make the process worth it! When it comes to active recall, nothing beats the use of flashcards — whether handwritten or created using digital apps such as Anki.

Mind Mapping

If you are visual person, then this strategy is perfect for you. Mind mapping is a visual technique that helps you organize and understand complex information. Basically, it’s creating a map of your thoughts! Start with a central idea and then let it branch out by adding related subtopics and ideas. Feel free to add colors and images to make it even more memorable and effective. Just the process of creating the mind map itself already helps you solidify your understanding of the topic.

Feynman Technique

This technique, inspired by the learning approach of renowned physicist Richard Feynman, involves breaking down complex ideas into simpler terms — as if you’re teaching a concept to a total beginner. While doing this, you’ll probably identify gaps in your knowledge and better understand the topic. Generally, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Ultimately, the best study routine is the one that fits your unique lifestyle. Experiment with different schedules and see what works best for you. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, consistency and dedication are the keys to academic success. Take time to craft your best study routine, and you’ll be acing your exams in no time!

What is the best study routine and schedule for you? Any other study techniques you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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