Hack your Day with an Effective Study Plan

Sometimes it feels like the hardest part of studying is finding the time (and energy) to sit down and do it in the first place. This is especially hard when AP® Exams are around the corner.

Usually, it goes something like this:

There’s too much on your plate. You’re overwhelmed. You don’t study.

Or this.

Your brain is working overtime. You’re exhausted. You don’t study.

Or this.

You sit down to study. Procrastination demons take hold of you and suddenly, you’re three hours deep into a YouTube wormhole. You don’t study.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. And the good news is that there are some VERY useful techniques to help you organize your day and help you stay focused on your tasks.

One of our favorite ways to plan a productive day is by using a daily planner that allows you to prioritize your goals and block out your time in bite-sized chunks.

Here’s one that we’ve tailored for high school students!

  1. If you don’t already know, find out what the date is and write the date in the date section. Bonus: circle which day of the week it is.
  2. Think of something you will DEFINITELY do today; something you WANT to do. This shouldn’t be a rigid task (we’ll get to those later), it should be more of a personal goal.

It could be something like:

productivity planner screenshot2

or

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  1. Assign your top priorities for the day. Now you can think ahead a little and take any deadlines you have into consideration. If you have a huge Spanish project due in a week, and a small amount of AP Literature homework due tomorrow, it still makes sense to bump the AP Lit homework to the front of the queue.

What else should you prioritize? Well, let’s say you have an AP World Exam coming up in a few weeks. That means you should probably be doing some regular essay practice and content review for it… so put it on the list!

What you DON’T want to put down here are tasks that are already fixed into your schedule for the day, because you HAVE to do those. If you have a saxophone lesson at 4 PM, for example, don’t include that. We’ll get to that stuff later.

This section might look like this:

productivity planner screenshot3

  1. Use this next section to write down ALL of your tasks for the day. If one of your top priorities comprises a few different steps, break those steps up here in your task section. Again, you don’t need to include things that are already fixed in your schedule.
  1. productivity planner screenshot5Fill out your daily schedule with all your pre-set obligations. So, if this happens to be a school day, fill all the time slots with your classes, extracurricular activities, and anything you have already committed to. Studies have shown that the best way to chunk your time is by 30-minute slots, but don’t worry if your class schedule doesn’t fit exactly into 30 minute periods. Fill it in as best you can; the most important part is leaving your free time blank to fill in for the next step.

productivity planner screenshot4

  1. Now you have your daily schedule all mapped out, you can start plugging your tasks into the remaining blank slots. As you move them across into your timetable, cross your tasks off the list. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day for everything on your task list and that’s ok! Your top three priorities are there for a reason. Plug those in first, and then add what you can from your training tasks.

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  1. Give yourself some extra motivation by thinking of a couple of things you can reward yourself with today!

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  1. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking! Something as simple as staying hydrated is not only good for you, it’s also a good way to help you stay accountable to your goals throughout the day.

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  1. Set yourself one goal for tomorrow. It could be something self-care-related or a task you know you want to bump to the top of the priority list. It could be this:

productivity planner screenshot7

Or this.

productivity planner screenshot11

Or this.

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Download your planner here!

For everything you need to know about the 2021 AP Exam updates, check out this article.

Download free practice tests for APUSH, AP Euro, AP Lang, AP Lit, and AP U.S. Government and Politics here.