Good study methods: It’s all about knowing the best routine, timetable, and hour to study

good study methods

Let’s face it, most of us have been there – Googling ‘good study methods’ or ‘how to study faster’ as a deadline or an exam looms closer and closer. 

You’ve scrolled through music playlists for studying and arranged green plants around your desk. Somewhere along the way, cups of coffee are scattered throughout your living space; your bed has become your desk, and your desk has become your bed. 

But as you grow older and progress further in your academic journey, you’ll find that powering through the night to get work or revision done doesn’t cut it anymore. 

Your responsibilities start piling up, and assignments and exams get harder. You might pick up part-time jobs or start your own side gig to earn extra pocket money, and those end up consuming your time and energy. 

Having good study methods can help make things much easier, and the first step is to build yourself a good study routine that you can stick to.

good study method

It goes without saying that our phones are the biggest distractions when we’re trying to stay productive. Source: AFP

The power of a good study routine

A study routine is a set of actions you can perform every day. It could be as simple as putting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode or as complex as having a whole 10-step routine that involves finding the right playlist and getting a cup of coffee.

Everyone’s routine varies, but regardless of what steps you take, having a good study routine can be helpful. Here are some benefits you can get out of it:

Better sleep

With a good study routine, there are no more all-nighters or sleeping in. Once you’ve spaced out your responsibilities, you have more time to get some good quality sleep. Getting enough sleep is one thing, but the quality of your sleep matters too.

If you’re extra desperate to catch up on your zzz’s, check out our tips to get better sleep.

good study methods

Exercise is a great way to keep your brain and body active. Source: AFP

Doing more 

With a schedule in place, you can plan ahead and make the most of your time. 

You’ll have more time to arrange hangouts with your friends, work on personal projects, exercise or get a part-time job for extra income. It even works for me-time – plan on completing your assignments ahead of time so you can binge the entirety of Bridgerton Season 3 when it comes out. 

Higher quality work

Imagine scrambling to find references for your assignment when you’re 10 minutes away from the deadline or realising you missed an entire chapter while revising for your exam that’s 2 hours away. Talk about a nightmare.

You won’t be rushing your assignments or cramming for deadlines if you set a schedule that works for you. As a result, the quality of your work won’t suffer if you’re not pressed for time. 

Developing consistency 

Consistency is the bedrock of all things. Personal achievements, academic goals, and career success all revolve around making consistent progress, no matter how small it is. 

Undoubtedly, a good study routine can reinforce your learning, making it easier to retain information and perform well in class and beyond. The more you stick to your routine, the more consistently you’ll start to develop in your daily life. Eventually, you’ll find yourself always having something to work on, ensuring you stay productive.

Less stress

You’ll feel more in control at all times with a good study routine. You don’t end up scrambling for things, make fewer mistakes, and of course, feel mentally healthier. Managing multiple tasks and deadlines will become second nature, with less stress and anxiety that comes with them. 

good study methods

Extracurricular activities are part and parcel of your academic life – just make sure you plan them out accordingly. Source: AFP

Good study methods start with a timetable

To build a good study routine, our tip is to create a timetable. It’s a great way to improve your productivity and focus since everyone is prone to being distracted by the slightest influence. 

They can come in different forms — some people set digital timetables using smartphone applications such as Class Timetable, Timetable & Schedule Maker, or even their calendars or reminders. 

If you’re feeling extra fancy or have time to kill and want to have a nice timetable, applications like Canva have great templates you can use for free. Design and print it out, or use it as a digital wallpaper so you’ll always have it on display. 

To create a great timetable, start by having an overview of your time as a whole.

Divide your months into weeks and weeks into days. Note down weekends and days off, highlighting important dates such as exam periods or assignment deadlines.

Once you have your days down, start breaking them up into blocks. You should have blocks for classes, extracurricular activities, breaks, meals and study sessions, to name a few. 

It’s important that you be specific with your study-related blocks. Instead of setting aside an hour a day to “study math,” break it down like “to do two practice papers” or “to complete one chapter and five workbook questions.”

Clear up a few blocks a week to make room for unexpected things, such as a spontaneous hangout with a friend or extra studying for a particularly hard subject.

Even if you don’t end up using those timeblocks, they’ll be bonus time off for yourself.

It’s important that you distribute your time as evenly as possible to avoid overloading yourself.

Burnout still can affect you with a timetable – look at Hermione Granger in her third year.

For non-Harry Potter fans, Granger signed up for practically every class offered to her year, which required her to frequently travel back in time to attend lessons simultaneously. And yes, while it became a plot device essential to the finale, she undoubtedly suffered from stress, overload, and anxiety.

So to avoid that, there are some questions you have to ask yourself before making a study timetable:

  1. What do you hope to accomplish with this timetable? Are you hoping to finish your assignments before a deadline, prepare for an exam, plan out your shifts for your part-time job, or improve on personal time management?
  2. What are your current commitments? Classes, work, and extracurricular activities are some examples of irreplaceable commitments that you have to schedule your time around. If your timetable seems jam-packed, it may be necessary to reevaluate your commitments and see if you can cut back on some of your activities.
  3. What is your individual learning style? Are you the type of person who can focus for long periods of time, or do you study better in short bursts? Do you study better before or after a meal? Are you a morning person, or do you prefer studying in the evening?

The time of the day you study, in particular, is a popular topic for many students. 

Some people believe that studying in the morning is the best, as your brain is refreshed after a good night’s sleep. Others think that studying in the evening or at night is better, as the world is quieter and you absorb information better before sleeping.

But does it really make any difference?

Is there a best hour to study and does it really work? 

“The early bird gets the worm” is a phrase that most of us are familiar with. This extends to being productive with work and studying – plenty of people believe that mornings are the best time to do so and that it’s a good study method. 

But is it true? Some Reddit users agree that it is.

“It feels easier to start studying in the morning. You just got up, blank slate for the day, grab a bite to eat and some coffee, then sit down and go at it,” says one user. “You can spend hours studying, finishing, and still have the day ahead of you.”

Online sources state that researchers and scientists have agreed on varying timeslots. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. are great times to study, as the human brain is most awake and teachable. 

good study methods

Many people feel a dip in energy around 3 p.m., as the body’s internal clock – called the circadian rhythm – signals a rest period. Source: AFP

But the truth is, there is no definitive “best” hour to study. Each individual is different and may have different commitments – you cannot force someone who works a morning shift to study while working or an early riser to stay up past 11 p.m. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the question. 

You could be one of these:

Morning learner

The most popular category, research has shown that as we get older, our brains have better cognition in the morning hours as compared to the evening – so morning learners definitely benefit from being productive in the earlier hours of the day. They also appreciate the natural light, as opposed to studying in artificial light later in the day. 

Afternoon learners 

It’s common for people to experience a dip in energy mid-day, making focusing on work or studying harder than usual. But some get their burst of energy after lunch, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

Nighttime learners

These night owls prefer the quiet of the night to be at their most productive. They might find most of their energy here and relish the chance to study and memorise without environmental distractions. As a bonus, sleeping right after that will feel extra satisfying.