Today we have a guest post for you courtesy of David Recine of Magoosh. Focused on study goals and how we can incorporate them into life, it offers some practical tips and sound advice to ensure ongoing success. Enjoy!
Setting study goals can be challenging, especially if you aren’t a full-time student.
To find time for your study goals in day-to-day life, you have to strike a careful balance. If you devote too little time to your studies, you’ll lose sight of your goals as other responsibilities crop up. But if you set overambitious study goals, you can easily miss those goals and get discouraged.
If you are setting your own study goals in your spare time, think of these goals as a garden in the courtyard of your life. Plants in a garden need the right amount of water and sunlight– not too much and not too little. Similarly, your study goals need the exact right amount of your time and energy.
First and foremost, you should set a realistic study schedule. Your study schedule should be realistic in two ways. You’ll need to have time for both your studies and the other parts of your day-to-day life. And you’ll need to set aside enough time so that your learning can progress.
To ensure you have sufficient time for both life and study, most people should set aside no more than three hours per weekday, on average. And as you take stock in your life, you may find that you have less than three hours per day. This can be especially true if you have both a full time job and a family.
So three hours per day is the maximum you should probably devote to your study goals. If you are exceptionally busy, you may also need to think of the minimum amount of time you can put in. Your minimum daily time for study depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to master a second language, many experts recommend a minimum of one hour of study per day; this applies to other skill-building study goals as well. If your goal is to pass a standardized test, how much time you put in per day depends a lot on when you need to take the test. If you have a month of study time before an exam, 2-4 hours per weekday and 5-6 hours over the weekend is a realistic minimum; you can see an example of this schedule in a typical 1 month GRE prep plan.
Once you’ve chosen a study schedule that seems realistic, make sure you can also be flexible. Life happens. You will have days when unexpected things come up and you need to cancel or shorten a study session. For language learning and other skill-studies, try to give yourself one or two hours per day. That way if you have a day where you can’t do your minimum one hour of study, you can make up for lost time the next day. For rigorous, multidisciplinary academic studies such as test prep or self-paced online courses, be prepared to stretch your study plan out for a longer period. That one-month, 2-4 hour a day GRE study schedule I linked to could become a two-month, 1-2 hour a day plan. Self-paced courses through schools such as Udemy or Western Governors University can be similarly stretched if need be.
The pace of your life will ebb and flow. You’ll be more busy with your day-to-day life at times, less busy at others. The time you put in for your study goals will need to ebb and flow with the rest of your life. The trick is to make sure that flow of study never comes to a complete stop… until you reach your goal.
About David Recine
David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent.