Getting Organized: Creating a Daily Study Plan

Joe’s grades were slipping and his football coach told him he either had to bring up his grades or quit the team. Hearing that from his coach was the motivation Joe needed to start hitting the books, but when he sat down to study, he wasn’t quite sure where to start. He tried looking over his math homework for 15 minutes, then pulled out his social studies textbook and read a few chapters. By the time he picked up the novel he had to read for English class, his head was swirling with information. When he looked at the pages of the novel, all he saw were quadratic equations and the names and dates from his social studies textbook. His brain was on overload.

Instead of sitting down and trying to study everything at once, Joe could have benefitted from creating a study plan. A study plan helps you schedule in time for studying every subject without becoming overloaded with information. It also helps you make studying a priority in the midst of your busy schedule.

Finding the Time to Study

The first step in creating a study plan is to figure out where you can fit studying into your day. Make a list of everything you do during the day, starting from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Be sure to include the approximate time you do each activity. For example, a portion of Joe’s list would look like this:

6 a.m. – Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast
7 a.m. – Get on bus
8 a.m. – Get to school
9 a.m. – English
10 a.m. – Study hall
11 a.m. – Science
12 p.m. – Lunch

Once you have made your list, the second step is to determine how much time you have to study. Joe has a one hour study hall at 10 a.m. He also knows that he has an hour before football practice and three hours for dinner he could possibly use for studying. After you figure out how much time you have to study, you must figure out what you need to study.

Making a List of Priorities

To figure out what you need to study, make a list of all your subjects and then list those subjects from most important to least important. Joe knows he is failing social studies, so that will go at the top of his list. Math comes fairly easily and he can get his work done quickly, so it goes at the bottom.

While you may have homework for each subject every night, you do not have to schedule in general study time for each subject on a daily basis. Instead, your study schedule should include time to do homework and then time to review your notes and do some general studying for each individual subject.

For example, if you have two hours of study time every day, your schedule may look like this:

Daily (6 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Monday (7:10 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
Review social studies notes (20 minutes), Read novel for English (20 minutes)

Tuesday (7:10 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
Review English notes (20 minutes), Read novel for English (20 minutes)

Wednesday (7:10 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
Review science notes (20 minutes), Study for weekly math quiz (20 minutes)

Thursday(7:10 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
Review math notes (20 minutes), Study for weekly social studies quiz (20 minutes)

Friday – Off

Scheduling Breaks

Notice that even though the schedule above is written for a two-hour study block, it includes time to take breaks. When studying multiple subjects, be sure to take a break in between each subject. Taking 10 or 15 minutes to have a snack, watch a little TV or call a friend can help you process the information you learned during your studying and clear your mind so it is ready to tackle the next subject.

It is also important to give yourself longer breaks from studying. Instead of studying seven days a week, schedule a day or two where you do not have to study at all. Taking time off from studying will make it easier to focus when you sit down to study and will give you something to look forward to on the nights you do have to study.

Ready to Study

Joe sat down and created a study plan. He decided to use his study hall during school to work on his social studies for 30 minutes, then relax for a few minutes and work on any big projects or papers he had coming up. In the evenings, he would spend 40 minutes finishing homework, take a 10 minute break and then spend 20 minutes each night studying one of his other subjects. Fridays and Saturdays were study-free so he could focus on football.

Suggested Exercises
  1. Write out your entire schedule for a typical day and highlight any times where you could fit in some studying. Remember: You only need 15 or 20 minutes to fit it in.
  2. Make a list of all of your subjects and number each subject, with #1 being the subject you need to study the most.
  3. Print out a monthly calendar in write in your study plan for the entire month.

Discussion Questions
  1. What subject do you need to study the most?
  2. Are there any small blocks of time during your day when you could fit in some studying?
  3. How could you adjust your study plan if you had a big test coming up or a large project due?