How Long to Study

TL;DR: 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off

  • If you are studying for longer than 20 minutes intervals, you are wasting time.
  • Plenty of studies exist that argue the best practices for studying.
  • Here's just one of many.
    • "We propose that deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused," he said. "From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself..."
  • Some of them argue for a 20/10 split in time.
  • Others argue for a 30/10 or a 45/15 split of work and break.
  • Whichever you choose, whichever works best for you, stick to it.

Spend 20 minutes on focused work

  • Set a timer on your phone so your mind is not constantly wandering to see how much time is left until break time.
  • NO distractions. NO phone. NO lyrical music.
  • You may think you can listen to lyrical music and study, but you cannot. All people can only, at best, rapidly split time back and forth between two or more events.
  • No, seriously, you are not special.
  • No one can multi-task. There is plenty of research showing that the idea of multi-tasking is a falsehood, and that some people are just able to appear to be productive doing more than one thing at a time.

Then, take 10 minutes on mindlessness.

  • Set a timer
  • Watch part of a TV show or movie (but only one you've already seen. If you start a new one, your brain might be preoccupied with that story while trying to get back to studying)
  • Play 10 minutes of a Video Game
  • Do house chores.
  • Hang out with your Other or with your kids.
  • Eat.

Then, return to study

  • Discipline is not about forcing yourself to be responsible or to do something you don't want to do.
  • Discipline is letting go of the current attachment (of something that is controlling you) and choosing to attach yourself to something else.
  • Soon, you'll need just as much discipline to walk away from 20 minutes of study as you'll need to walk away from 10 minutes of leisure.