12 Experts Share their Time Management Tips for Self-Study


Unlock the secrets to effective self-study with expert tips on time management! Learn how to boost memory retention, reduce stress, and ace your studies with strategies tailored for language learners. 📘⏰

  • Pre-Decide Everything: Plan your study specifics like location, timing, and topics in advance to avoid on-the-spot decisions and boost productivity. 🗓️
  • Comprehension Over Memorization: Take time to truly understand material rather than just memorizing it. This builds a solid foundation for future learning. 🧠
  • Study Solo: Avoid distractions by studying alone and keeping your phone away. Friends and social spots might feel good but can hinder focus. 🚫📱
  • Integrate Learning into Daily Life: Use language apps during downtime and listen to podcasts or audiobooks during commutes to maximize learning opportunities. 🚌🎧
  • Strategize Your Schedule: Assess how you spend your time, understand procrastination triggers, and follow a study schedule with clear priorities and rewards. 🕒
  • Make Learning a Habit: Set a regular study schedule, immerse yourself in the language, and use real-life practice to enhance learning. 📅
  • Personalize Your Approach: Find what learning methods and environments work best for you and create a structured plan with clear goals. 💡
  • Stay Consistent: Commit to daily practice, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, to maintain focus and avoid burnout. 🔥
  • Use Triggers: Associate your study time with a consistent trigger, like a cup of tea, to signal your brain it’s time to learn. ☕
  • Seek Accountability: Partner with fellow learners or use virtual accountability tools to stay motivated and on track with your studies. 👥

My thoughts

Why is time management needed for self-study?

Did you know? Time management has an impact on your academic performance.

A person that often crams their lessons will often experience a loss of motivation when studying.

It will often lead to lower memory retention or worse, failing to do well in your studies.

Not managing your time while studying also increases stress and anxiety.

Of course, it is inevitable to lack time juggling between different priorities when studying.

Language learners often use a schedule planner together with a timezone converter when attending a language class online.

This strategy helps any learner focus on what to accomplish for that day without worrying about their schedules.

What are some time management tips for self-study?

We have our preferences when we’re studying. What affects our preferences in studying is determined by our environment, multiple intelligences, and other factors.

But, it’s a universal truth that time management requires focus, so work on what’s efficient and best for your every day.

Time management is even considered a skill since you develop your own way of scheduling and planning.

Discover what other experts recommend when managing your time while self-studying.

Daniel Wong: Rely less on motivation and more on systems and pre-decisions

When it comes to self-study, it’s best to rely less on motivation and to rely more on systems and pre-decisions instead. After all, it usually doesn’t work out when you tell yourself that you’ll just “focus” and “manage your time well.”

I recommend that you pre-decide as many things as possible, so you won’t have to make many decisions on the spot.

I suggest that you decide beforehand where you’re going to study, what time you’re going to study, how many study sessions you’re going to do, how long each study session will be, what subjects or topics you’ll study, etc.

I also suggest that at the start of each day, you take a few minutes to plan your 3 to 5 priorities for the day.

In my own life, I’ve pre-decided that I start work every workday at 8:30 AM and end at 6 PM. I typically work in blocks of 30 minutes, with a 5 – to 10-minute break after each work session.

I also take a break of about one hour from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM to exercise and eat lunch. Because all these decisions have been made beforehand, my time management and productivity are much better.

Daniel Wong specializes in equipping students and teens with the mindset and skills to become both successful and happy. He also shares with parents what they can do to help.

Michael Fray: Make sure you understand than simply memorizing

While it may seem efficient to complete your study activities as quickly as possible, you can often save time in the long run by going through them more thoroughly and deliberately.

It is important to ensure that you comprehend the content you’re learning.

This may require you to pause and think things over, test yourself or seek out further clarification if you don’t understand something.

In this way, you’re developing a stronger foundation for further study that builds on this content, so you’re less likely to get stuck later on and be forced to revisit the basics.

Making sure that you understand, rather than simply memorizing, will also better prepare you to apply the knowledge in new and unfamiliar situations.

Michael Fray has more than 2 years of experience as a tutor and enjoys blogging about study tips and student life at Yearist.com

Adam Schlomi: Study alone to avoid distractions

For effective self-study, we believe in avoiding distractions by removing cell phones from the study area and studying solo in a quiet place.

Cell phones can easily suck studiers in, as one quick text message leads to an infinite scroll on Instagram. Nearly any message on a phone can sit for an hour while students complete their study session.

I also prefer students to study alone. While cafes and friends can make studying more attractive the reality is most students spend more time chatting with friends than they do focusing.

The best way for me to reach a flow state is to be alone in my office or a quiet library. Friends and social cafes are an impediment to studying.

Adam Shlomi is the founder of SoFlo SAT Tutoring. He went to Georgetown University, scored 1570/1600 on the SAT, and now SoFlo annually brings in 7 figures in revenue. At SoFlo we offer online SAT/ACT Prep to students around the world and have 100 tutors on our team, but when he founded SoFlo a little more than two years ago he was bedridden recovering from ankle surgery with doctors saying I may never walk again.

Emma Jackman: Use every opportunity to practice and study

My favorite time management tip for self-study is to weave your language learning into your day-to-day life.

Most of us own a smartphone, and there are so many apps for language learning that you will never be without the opportunity to practice a bit of your target language.

My favorite language-learning app is MosaLingua, which uses flashcards to help you absorb new vocabulary and phrases.

Whenever you have any wasted time, such as sitting on a bus, waiting for an appointment, etc. Seize this chance to learn some extra vocab.

Basically, any time you’re tempted to start scrolling through social media!

Another way to make good use of wasted time is to practice your listening skills for your target language.

If you spend a lot of time in the car or commuting by train, podcasts, and audiobooks in your target language are your best friends!

If German happens to be your target language, you may find this post helpful: 5 Useful German Audiobooks.

Emma Jackman is the founder of Emma Loves German, an all-rounded resource for German learners. You’ll find articles on speaking, reading, writing, and listening in German as well as grammar tips, frequently used phrases, and language course reviews.

Elzette Wilkinson: Strategize your time management

One of the reasons many people put off learning a new language is that they feel they simply do not have enough time for their studies.

The good news is that (with a little bit of effort) you can learn effective time management strategies to help you become a more productive learner.

Here are a few tips:

  • Start with assessing exactly how you spend your time

Before you can start optimizing your schedule, it’s important to understand exactly where your time goes. Start by keeping a diary of your activities for about a week.

How are you spending your time? Can you cut down on certain activities to make more time for your studies?

  • Understand your procrastination triggers

There are many reasons why we procrastinate, and these will be different for everyone.

Whenever you find yourself putting off (or getting distracted from) your studies, ask yourself: “What is preventing me from completing this task?”.

Do this for a few days and you will soon start seeing a pattern. This will help you identify and address your procrastination triggers.

  • Follow a study schedule

Set up a clear daily schedule so you know exactly what you will be studying and for how long. You can find tips on how to build an effective study schedule here.

Remember to reward yourself for a job well done to keep you motivated.

Elzette Wilkinson is a blogger from Cape Town, South Africa. She is the writer behind Fluency Pending, a language learning blog dedicated to sharing tips and tricks for successful language learning. Follow Elzette on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for useful resources for learning a new language (and the occasional picture of Frank, her pug).

Olivia Fuller: Make learning a habit

It can be hard to find the will to spend time learning a new language – particularly when you don’t live in a country that speaks it!

It is important to set yourself a goal in order to stay motivated. For example, “I will be able to order a meal in Italian by the time I depart for Rome.”

This will help you to stay on track and to have something specific to work towards.

Another helpful tip is to make learning a habit. Whether it’s spending 5-10 minutes every day on a language app, or an hour twice a week set yourself a schedule, and stick to it!

Finally, immerse yourself as much as possible in the language, working it into your everyday life.

Find someone to practice speaking with, or read books and watch movies in the target language.

You can use tools such as Facebook to find a language partner or language meetups in your own city and switch your favorite show’s audio or subtitles into another language when watching Netflix.

Learning another language can be difficult and takes time, but it is worth it! You will not only feel accomplished but learn a lot about another culture.

Olivia Fuller is an American who has worked and travelled in Europe, Asia, and North America for the past 6 years. She is living in Budapest and is the marketing manager for Ultimate Budapest, a ticketing agency and informational resource for activities and events in the city. She loves learning languages and has either taken courses in or taught herself the basics of Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Hungarian.

Sam Campbell: Find what works best for YOU

Here are three tips that I’ve found extraordinary helpful for my own language-learning journey, and which you might find useful as well.

  • Know what you’re there for

If you know why you want to learn this language in the first place, then it’s so much easier to figure out each step of your self-study process.

Do you need it for business? Or an interview requirement? Whatever your reason is, make sure it’s clear so that everything else can fall into place with harmony.

  • Choose how YOU like to learn most

Where do YOU feel most comfortable learning the best (e..g., headphones at home or outdoors)?

Make sure YOU choose how YOU like to learn so that you can maximize your focus and potential.

Some people might prefer to listen to audio lessons while they’re driving, while others might enjoy reading grammar books cover to cover.

There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” way, as long as you find what works best for YOU and stick to it!

  • Create structure and goals

If you’re planning to start learning on your own, one of the most important steps before you even begin is setting up an action plan for yourself!

How many hours do you want to put into studying? Which lesson or unit are you starting with? As long as your goal is clearly defined, it will be much easier to achieve it.

In addition, try setting mini-goals along the way as a form of motivation – for example, “I’ll review this grammar point five times this week” or “I’ll watch one dialogue lesson every day.”

This will keep you on track and help avoid any feelings of being overwhelmed.

Sam Campbell runs the Digital Marketing blog Reddiquette, which is dedicated to helping advertisers increase their success on Reddit. He also helps businesses grow their digital marketing skills.

Michail Korovin: Keep practicing no matter how long it takes

My first suggestion would be to learn some language-restorable phrases just before bed, on the train during your commute, or on the treadmill.

This will help maintain cognitive function and prevent you from forgetting what you learned.

My second suggestion would be to use a variety of learning methods.

Try apps like Duolingo which focuses on teaching grammar with reading comprehension followed by actual conversation practice with people around the world.

Add in some listening materials like podcasts or videos where you can actually hear different accents being spoken out loud so your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to understand pauses and pauses between English words that are not separated by vowels sound more natural in languages everywhere!

It’ll also help greatly if you’re doing any more formal studying because you can try to use a spaced repetition system like Anki which you can play a little bit of every day and not have to worry about taking up your whole evening.

I would also suggest that you create a schedule where you plan out how many hours or minutes you’ll spend on language learning, then stick to it as much as possible!

This is important because sometimes you’ll be motivated, but other days it will be hard to get up and go.

Also, try not to compare yourself with others who may be learning the language faster than you – everyone has their own pace and it’s important to stay positive and keep practicing no matter how long it takes!

Michail Korovin, in his everyday life, is a chef. He and his family are originally from Moscow, Russia. He lives at home with his wife, Angie, and their 2 boys. On the internet, however, Michail is “The Caviar Guy” – the know-it-all caviar fanatic whose goal is to change the way that you think about this special food.

Thomas Jepsen: Do a 10-minute commitment

  • Strong espresso

Whenever you’re learning Italian, it’s important you start off by brewing yourself a strong espresso… For time management purposes! Jokes aside, I feel embracing the culture of the language I am learning helps set my mind straight.

  • 10 minutes every day

I absolutely force myself to learn a language for at least 10 minutes every day. Sometimes I do 90 minutes, but a 10-minute commitment keeps me focused and consistent. I never go above 120 minutes per day to avoid burning out.

  • 1 goal per day

Before starting off, I set one goal for that day’s lesson. Something I want to get better at. When I feel I’ve adequately satisfied my goal, that’s usually when I call it a day.

Thomas Jepsen is the CEO of Passion Plans, which help people build their dream homes with everything from house plans to construction advice. Originally Danish but grew up in Belgium before moving to the US, Thomas speaks 4 languages and is learning a 5th.

Benjamin Houy: Associate your language learning time with a specific trigger

My top language learning tip is to make studying the first thing you do when you wake up.

This helps avoid distractions and guarantees that you make progress every single day.

I find that starting the day this way also makes me much more productive throughout the day because it immediately gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Another thing you can do is associate your language learning time with a specific trigger.

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The trigger can be a cup of tea you always make before studying, a particular room where you study, or something you do right before.

The most important is for the trigger to be consistent so your brain associates you with language learning.

Benjamin Houy is the founder of French Together, a French-language education company that helps English speakers learn the 20% of French needed to understand 80% of everyday conversations.

Ingrid Truemper: Accountability can really boost productivity

Tackle active language study first thing in the morning while you are still fresh and before concerns of the day take over.

Doing a short guided meditation with an app like Headspace can help you focus before starting. Experiment with the Pomodoro method by setting a timer for 25 minutes to stay on task.

Turn off notifications on your phone, or better yet, put it in another room. Close any social media or email browser tabs.

Start with the most difficult study materials, like grammar. Later in the day, fit in a passive study with fun immersion materials like podcasts, YouTube videos, and TV shows.

Multitask by consuming podcasts or YouTube videos in your target language while exercising or doing household chores.

Accountability can really boost productivity. I meet weekly with two other women language learners.

We share our progress, brainstorm any roadblocks, and then record our goals for the coming week.

Learning a language is a long haul, and solo study can be lonely and demotivating. Schedule weekly classes with a teacher.

Team up with other independent language learners for regular silent study sessions over Zoom.

You can also find virtual accountability partners through sites like Focusmate.

Ingrid Truemper left software engineering at age 43 to devote herself to writing, language learning, and travel. Ingrid speaks English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and is learning Russian. Find out more at her blog Second-Half Travels.

 Janice Moskoff: Utilize available tools when busy

As a working mom with a teen and tween, I spend way too much time in the car shuttling the kids from one activity to the next. This means I don’t have a lot of free time.

When I want to learn – or brush up – on a language before a trip, I have to rely 100% on audio lessons and podcasts.

That way, I can double-duty – drive carpool and still get my practice in.

I may look silly to the other drivers, but this is a small price to pay for language proficiency!

Janice Moskoff is a travel writer and runs the Gather And Go Travel blog. She has traveled extensively, domestically and internationally, to 40+ countries. In addition to being a genuine travel planning nerd and lifelong book lover passionate about connecting reading to travel, she is fascinated by other cultures, religions, and languages. Janice looks at each trip as an incredible opportunity to learn.

Use time management to clear your study goals faster

We encourage you to apply one of the abovementioned tips to manage your time in studying effectively.

Also, be realistic with your schedule. Every person has different learning capabilities and circumstances that may take away the privilege of managing time for studying.

Learning a language requires immersion and total dedication of your time. But, even a quick 15-minute audio lesson will increase your vocabulary and memory retention.

If you want to maximize your time while learning a new language, check out our guide on how to learn languages fast.

Why is time management needed for self-study?

Time management is necessary for self-study to ensure that you have enough time to cover all the topics and tasks you need to learn. It helps you prioritize your tasks and schedule your study time effectively, leading to better learning outcomes.

What is more important motivation or discipline to learn Italian?

Both motivation and discipline are important for learning Italian, but discipline is more crucial in the long run. Motivation may come and go, but discipline is what keeps you consistently working towards your goals even when you don't feel like it.

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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