How to Structure Your Time for Studies


Everyone's busy.
Myself? My wife and I raise 5 young children while still making time for one another. She homeschools them while I work from the same home. How in the world can I develop a regiment that allows me to be flexible while remaining highly effective? I've been circling the answer for some time now and believe I'm very, very close to perfecting it.

Begin by writing out exactly what topic you would like to study. Notice 'topic' is singular. Being unfocused will hinder the plan's effectiveness.
Next, determine what study activities are worth doing. The types of activities that must be listed are:

  1. A curriculum (free is great!)
  2. Documenation or manual style literature
  3. Daily content from the best of the best
  4. Practice opportunities
  5. For fun project

Before we generate the flexible regiment, let me explain the purpose of each.

Find a free cirriculumn to follow. This will help keep you on track and keep you from spinning your wheels when trying to figure out what you should be studying when you finally have a moment to do so. Our goal is to know exactly what we will do at the computer before we even sit down at our desk.

Reading documentation or similar literature straight through is important for developing the full scope of the topic. This will help you know where to look when googling becomes necessary, and what features are available when coding.

In a perfect world, it would be good to consume bite-size, daily content from a leader in the field of study that you've chosen. Don't worry, doing this every day is not required. More on that soon.

Practice opportunities can be self generated, but that is inefficient as you now have to work harder to come up with a relevant-to-your-recent-studies assignement. For example, I complete problems from CodeWars.
Often times, your cirriculumn will have such practice opportunities, but I find they are not frequent enough. They also tend to be hyper-specific to what you're learning, which is great, but you need to practice solving problems that require more than one facility to solve. This will also serve as a refresher for material you've studied but have not otherwise used.

Lastly, having something FUN to work on is critical to keep motivation going.

Sound like way too much?

Check this out...

Some days I do 0 minutes of study, but each week I complete around 10 hours of study (in addition to my tech job that requires learning every day). Aim to complete your studies 5 days of the week.

If every day I have 2 hours of studying listed out, I will be far less likely to complete it compared to if I only had 30 minutes to commit to.
However, once I get going, I usually get in a zone and study for hours at once. Beside each study activity, write the minimum and the maximum amount of time that you can realisticly allott to each in an average day. Then order them in least fun to most fun so that you start with the "worst" one first. Get that out of the way and reward yourself with the more fun ones. Lastly, determine which should be optional. Optional means that you try to do them 3 times a week or more.

My regiment as of November 2022 looks like this:

  1. 6 - 30 min: Read straight through this O'reilly's JavaScript book
  2. 3 - 45 min: Complete at least 1 CodeWars challenge.
  3. 10 - 60min: The Odin Project
  4. 10 - 30 min: I'm listening to JS talks on youtube these days
  5. Optional: This blog has been my side project. (Next steps are to build it Dynamically in React!)

It is rare that I max out each item on the list, but it does happen. Usually I complete the minimum requirement and then spend a lot of extra time on one or two of them.