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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.
  • 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.