How Many Hours Do You REALLY Need to Study: Tips for Managing your Schedule

There is one struggle that unites high school and college students across the globe: time management. Students spend countless hours doing homework and studying for their classes. How does one find the magic number of hours you have to study to pass your classes while getting enough sleep,  maintaining a thriving social life, and (in some cases) balancing a job on top of that? This problem is like the fountain of youth for students, in the sense that learning how to manage your time could save you from hours of needless stress and sacrificing activities you enjoy.

There are different formulas that I've seen floating around the internet regarding study time. According to a source, they recommend  "one hour of studying for every credit hour" or "study 40 hours a week because work is a full-time job." These pieces of advice are daunting; they're unhelpful and can end up making you study for hours on end with only getting an hour's worth of work done.

According to the University of Georgia, college students get on average 6-6.9 hours of sleep per night, when ideally they should be getting 7-10 hours. So, with all the activities students have to do, they end up sacrificing their precious hours of sleep to finish their homework. That is not good. 

The question is never how MUCH you should study, but how WELL you should study. You can get 30 minutes of work done in 8 hours or 8 hours of work done in 30 minutes. There is no number benchmark you should aim to hit when studying, especially since everyone works at different places. The time it takes you to finish your work is unique to you as a fingerprint.  

So, we've established that there is NO magic number after all. The question still remains: how DO you manage your time? Here are some tips to help you avoid letting your work schedule overwhelm you.

  1. 1. Set a bedtime

    Sure, this may seem a little elementary, but establishing a time in your day when you don't do any more work and the lights are off can help you relax earlier in the night. In addition, it can  help you utilize your morning hours. In all honesty, here's my little made-up statistic: 1 morning hour is worth 1 ½ night hours.

  2. 2. Write down mandatory events in a calendar

    There are unavoidable events that require your presence and attention. so make sure to mark them in your calendar. This way, you can focus your attention on these activities and find time elsewhere in your day to plan out when to do your schoolwork. You can use a physical calendar or a Google calendar. It's your preference!

  3. 3. Make an assignment master document

    This is a little more time-consuming, but if you write down all your assignments and their due dates, you can avoid surprise assignments sneaking up on you. An added benefit to doing this is that you won’t be forced to stay up until 3 a.m. to finish it for your next class. You could write these assignments out in a bullet journal, or you can watch this TikTok on how to make an assignment list in Google Sheets.

  4. 4. Recognize how many hours you have

    Now, this requires some observation. Look at your calendar and evaluate how many  hours of "free" time you have. For example, when you're not in a class, ajob, going to events or appointments, or sleeping, how many hours do you have left over? If you have eight free hours in the day, then you can figure out when you can sit down to work on your schoolwork.

  5. 5. Make an appointment with each of your assignments

    Ideally, you want to schedule doing your homework like you would schedule going to class. For example, if you have a class at 3 p.m., you want to relax until 4:40 p.m., but then you have to do homework for one of your classes for an hour and a half. This structured style of studying helps you keep your focus on the important tasks for your class instead of jumping around between assignments or classes (this used to be my M.O.). Structuring your study time can also help you see how much time you are studying each day, which forces you to think critically about how effectively you're studying.

  6. 6. Hit the books daily

    No, this doesn't mean you spend an hour on each class every day. However, you can make your study sessions more efficient by refreshing the information you learned in class daily! Look at the material for each class for a minimum of 10 minutes a day, so you don't have to start from square one when you pick up your textbook for a class three or four days later.

  7. 7. For the love of God, when you take a break, actually take a break!

    Do not think about school or any other work you have to do! Not only will this make you upset, but you won't get the benefit of letting your brain chill out if you're still in the same mindset of doing work and stressing about it. It's worth it to take some time for yourself or your other interests!

Unfortunately, this isn't a foolproof formula either. There will be times when you have no choice but to pull an all-nighter, or it takes you longer to finish an assignment than you thought, or you just straight up don't want to do any work. And that's  not only okay, but it's also predictable! You're not a machine! And you don't have to work like one either! But utilizing different methods to manage your time efficiently and giving yourself more free time can set up many more healthy habits in the long run! Take care and happy scheduling!