How to Stick to Your Study Plan: 6 Best Practices

“Which Direction I (You Are Here)” Courtesy of Vido Drago

Whether you’re studying on a college program, for a career qualification, or just for personal interest, you’ll want to make a success of it. But few of us have the luxury of being able to just study – life has to go on as well.

You’ve probably already figured out that having a plan helps you to study consistently (rather than giving up, or cramming in hours of work just before exams). But how can you make sure you actually stick to the plans which you’ve made?

Be Realistic

Firstly, be realistic. Many of us are prone to over-estimating how much we can get done – and studying is a high-energy, intense activity which requires a lot of concentration. You simply can’t focus at that level for hours at a time.

Sometimes, being realistic about your studying plans might mean looking at the other commitments in your life. Do you need to ditch something else in order to have time to study effectively? Can you cut down on social activities to give yourself a couple of weeknights free for studying?

Find Your Best Time of Day

Are you a lark? Some people are at their best in the morning, before the demands of the day have crowded in. If that’s you, then try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier so that you can spend this high-focus time on your studying.

Or are you an owl? Without the constraints of a school day, you can choose to study late at night, if that suits you. For parents, this can be a good time because children are in bed and the house is quiet.

Even if you think you know what time of day’s best for you, try experimenting for a week or two. Perhaps your lunch hour is a great opportunity to practice your French vocabulary, or maybe you can drive to a coffee shop on the way home from work and study there until 6.30pm.

Have a Place to Study

As well as finding the right time to study, you’ll want to find the right place. Your studying environment can make all the difference when it comes to sticking to your plans. You’ll want to find a place where:

  • You’re not likely to be interrupted
  • There are no noises intruding (music etc is fine – but it should be noise which you choose)
  • You have enough space to spread out any studying materials that you’re using
  • You’re in a studying mood – so the family den may not be the best place

If your schedule is very packed, you’ll probably want to study somewhere in or very near your home, so that you don’t spend much time simply getting there. If you have more time, you could try picking a study location a little further away – this can be useful because once you’re there, you’ll be much less tempted to wander back home the moment you get bored!

Mix Things Up

It’s easy to get bored with a study plan if you’re constantly working on the same things. Rather than trying to trawl through the whole of a particular topic in one week, try mixing up your plan a little. Working on one topic one day and something completely different the next will help you to stay energised and fresh.

You can also try a mix of different learning methods. There’s no one “right” way to study. Consider:

  • Taking notes from books as you’re reading
  • Reading for half an hour, then writing down notes from what you remember
  • Listening to audio material while commuting
  • Watching videos
  • Going to seminars or classes
  • Talking to fellow students about what you’re learning
  • Writing an article or blog post based on what you’ve been studying (perhaps a beginners’ guide)
  • Drawing diagrams or pictures to help you remember or understand a concept

Build in Flexibility

How often have you made a perfect study plan, only to have it fall apart as soon as something unexpected cropped up? Life happens – and sometimes you’ll have to cancel a planned study session in order to deal with an interruption or an emergency.

Be prepared for this in advance: when you draw up your studying schedule, allow some “spare” time which you can use if you need to catch up. Even if your week goes perfectly, you may find that some areas of study simply take longer than you expected – and this buffer time lets you allow for that.

Track Your Progress

Finally, it’s easiest to stick with a plan when you can see that it’s working! There are lots of ways to track your progress: for example, you could tick off study sessions on your calendar, or award yourself a gold star at the end of each week when you’ve successfully completely all the studying which you’d planned.

You can also review the material that you’re learning: perhaps taking a quiz or practice exam at regular intervals. If you can see that you’re making constant improvements, you can remind yourself to stick with your studying despite day-to-day fluctuations in your motivation levels.

If you’re studying – whether formally or informally – do you have a plan? What helps you to stick with it?

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61 Responses to How to Stick to Your Study Plan: 6 Best Practices

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  2. Led Retrofit says:

    Develop a realistic plan that’s established according to your needs and schedule, and supports the way you learn.

  3. TJ says:

    I like the idea of experimenting to find your best time of day for studying. I think this also is true for finding the best time of the day for being creative. I’ve always done both in the wee hours of the morning, but this makes me want to run an experiment to see which is better.

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  5. Julie says:

    This reminds me a lot of when I was writing papers for my Master’s degree. When I was assigned a paper, I’d break it down into approximately one-hour chunks (Find articles from library, read 2-3 articles, outline, write 3-4 pages, edit 10 pages, etc.) and schedule one chunk per day. Usually, it wound up being 2-3 weeks of work. I’d also schedule three or four one-hour chunks at the end to use in case I fell behind earlier in the process. Those extra days saved me many, many times, beacuse things never go according to plan.

    I think this article is great advice for people who are trying to get a handle on their studying. Good luck, everyone!

  6. Pk says:

    I think mixing things up while studying is really important, or we soon feel discouraged and bored.

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  9. The two points I really enjoyed were: 1) Mix It Up and 2) Find Your Best Time of Day. Since we learn in so many different ways, I have found it helpful, in my study, to draw it out, record and listen to it, and even to teach it to others. As for me, I am an early riser, so my best study time is in the morning.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion to mix things up. I think this helps a lot but if you leave things to the last minute (like I tend to) you don’t get much chance to do this.

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  12. r0ck3t3r says:

    I run or bike before I study. I get a surge of energy aftwards that lasts a few hours, and I just feel more alive.

  13. dutch84 says:

    I’ve created a study schedule. I mapped out my entire week and penciled in the times I have to study and what I’m going to be studying. All that’s left is for me to follow through.

  14. rolivhuwa says:

    my best time of studing is early in the morning , while my mind is still fresh my brain full of focus, a also do lot of revision after all i understand better

  15. this post has some great tips,, i am currently studying for my masters degree i have my exmas in may, and i will be trying these techniques out for definate!! thanks so much

  16. albert says:

    good one is the night time!

  17. abhishek says:

    thank you so much for such a great guidance. :)

  18. shaik.Azmah says:

    in my view night time is good for studing and morning time is better for revision

  19. anon says:

    nice advice! 😀 Gonna follow it!

  20. Guest says:

    I have tried most of your plan, some just aren’t realistic for me, eg. finding the best place to study (long story). 
    What I think one needs most to stick to one’s study plan, is simply to have the willpower to resist temptations. 

  21. Uday says:

    i have no time study because of exam in 15days so please tell to study

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  24. Sameera rashid says:

    best guidence for studying thanks. i as pissed off my studies but thanks to you for guding.:) specially mixing up is quite usefull and the time;

  25. Andrii Baiat says:

    Free Step to Study in over 9000 accredited Universities & Colleges around the world | Rating | Top | Reviews | Opinion | Forum | Address on the map 

  26. K Bhatt66 says:

    The data is good but is very short. More detail is needed.

  27. Hossein kamyab says:

    I am a high school student from Iran in my country ,studding is the most important thing to be successful  if you want to go to university you have to take a test with including what you have studding from the second level of high school to forth and there is many institutes to help you here it is very important to know how to plan for study 

  28. Sall says:

    i heart one direction

  29. Omid says:

    damet garm dash hussein

  30. N Anudeepkumar says:

    thank u very much. iam having a very silly problem. i am a very good planner, but i cant make it happen practically. what do u suggest for this problem sir??

  31. guest says:

    i will like to try

  32. Yashok_rai says:

    um very good thank you so much.

  33. TD says:

    Thank you so much!…saved me from lots of trouble..:)

  34. ALIMOHAMMADI_1991 says:


  35. ALIMOHAMMADI_1991 says:


  36. ALIMOHAMMADI_1991 says:


  37. STram says:

    maybe your plan is unrealistic. try to make one which suits you more

  38. STram says:

    maybe your plan is unrealistic. try to make one which suits you more

  39. Joginaidu01 says:

    try  to add more

  40. Kimiyakgfd says:

    very exelent

  41. Son Sophanara says:

    Hi, I am currently having  MBA class in one International univesity i would like to make a study plan which effective to my study the most since i am still worried about  my academic with reading and my writing skill , with the reading i got trouble with vocabularies and writing i don have so much brain storming  but for speaking and listening is good .. Any advice with my problem please .. Thanks so much

  42. hiyyaaa says:


  43. Thenozy says:

    Didnt help much
    i expected how to do so
    not the points to do so
    Video and mail me at riyazpro775@yahoo:disqus .com

  44. sireesha.vasanta says:

    Its more nearer to reality….thank u……

  45. Puru says:

    true said … all u need is the willpower to study.. if u have a clear aim u and u are dedicated to it, u will definitely work hard…

  46. elina says:

    I cannot stick onto my schedule .can you help me?????

  47. FADI says:

    RIGHT :-)

  48. FADI says:

    MAKE IT EASY in start and as you develop confidence by following it take it to more tight leveL.

    some tips are as follows.,

    Right down your tasks., and prioritize them.,

    Discussion helps alot.,

    Leave the books when it starts mixing or bla bla bla

    Keep Mug of coffee with you.,,

    try to relate your studies with your daily work/routine.

    Make Short codes for names.,

    Make tables, diagrams,.

  49. Abul Kashem says:

    First fix the target and to achieve it work hard with particular plan.

  50. Narmin says:

    He’s right.studying HARD here in Iran is the only way to hv a good life hopefully in the future.

  51. seven says:

    Wow…really very effective…..loved it so much very practical approachh superb….

  52. Momo says:

    Sometimes I study the day before the exams or something and I pretty much get a decent grade, though sometimes (especially in Math) I don’t understand shit at all. Also these days I seem to be falling behind, and shit no I want to catch back up. It’s been 2 quarters already, and I desperately want to rise back up for the last 2 quarters.

    Trying this stuff out, hope it works. *sips coffee*

  53. jj says:

    “Wrong Direction”

  54. harpreet singh says:

    how to prevent diversions my biggest anime as i uget diverted by tv in next room my mobile updates family members talking to each other in next room an so on …..please help

  55. mona bhati says:

    I have a problem in finding my best time to study and how many hours I could study and which subjest

  56. :) says:

    I understand how you feel <3 I'm here, don't feel like you're the only one. My brother is so loud, he screams sometimes etc. and I can't concentrate but I thought this problem through for 1 year and I found a great solution!! I think it will help you too. Buy headphones. Some of them are really expensive but there are really professional headphones that allow you to concentrate. seriously my mom and brother yell in front of my room and i don't hear (he can scream really loud even oyr neighbors called the cops) I'm happy now, i never get out of my room

  57. Nitin says:

    Wake up at 5AM in morning and study

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  59. Shortcake Writes says:

    For me, theory subjects have always been kind of daunting. If I try to cram a lot in a 2-3 hours session, it frustrates me and I’m afraid I won’t retain what I’ve learnt for very long.
    What I’m trying to implement now is this:
    I break my syllabus down into little sections, maybe a page long, or topic-wise. I read it aloud first thing in the morning and audio record it. When I go out on my morning run or travelling to class, I listen to it on repeat and try to memorize the facts.
    I write notes at night before sleeping from memory and my own inferences.
    It’s working so far and is strangely therapeutic.

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