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How Many Hours A Day Should You Study?

As adult learners, we don’t have a lot of time for studying. We have to manage work and a family and social life. And then there should be time for studying… But how much should you study per day? 

This is exactly what you will learn right now. 

hours per day

One of the best things about being an adult learner these days is that there are so many online or e-learning possible. This saves you a lot of travel time and allows you to be more productive. 

Research (link) shows that traditional students should study for about 2 to 3 hours per one hour of class. Here is an overview of the average time popular online courses require from their students per course and per day. 

ProgramModulesCost (USD)Total Time (months)Time per Day (hours)
Computer Science Fundamentals349760.5-2
Cybersecurity Fundamentals91494121-1.5
Programming & Data Structures4132891
Fundamentals of Neuroscience350750.5-1

Basic Spanish
Introduction to Python Programming459651-1.5
Mandarin Communication574570.5-1.5
MBA Core Curriculum72793121-1.5

I am assuming you can study 7 days per week. On weekdays, you may have a little less time. During the weekend, you have more time. 

My personal goal is to do all the heavy studying on my weekdays, and if I want to, I can do some light reading during the weekend. This gives me more personal time with my family when we all don’t have to work.

I looked at several courses that are more than one module. They are all MicroMasters or MicroBachelors programs from edX (link). This is done because most adult learners are not doing one module. They are studying for the long run. 

The programs are from various well-established institutions, like MITx, NYUx, GTx, and others. Prices are added because they offer certification and study credits. 


Here is the real-life result of how long you should study per day

When I take the average time of all these courses and check how long you should be studying according to them this is what I found. 

The average time needed to study is 1 hour and 6 minutes…  per day!

Now, this may sound like a long time to study every day… for the next months or perhaps years. 

But think about it differently. This is the number of hours they feel it takes an average student to complete the course. The bonus is… you end up with a real certification or even a degree!

one hour of study per day nightingale

Again, this is the time these fine institutions say it takes the average student to complete these programs. 

But you are not an average student. You are an adult student. This often means that you doubt if you can do this study thing! (Hint: YOU NOT DOUBT YOURSELF). 

On the other hand, you are much more motivated to make this work than an average student. You picked your study curriculum to create new chances and make a better life for you and your family. 

And here comes the most important part…


What do top adult learners do?

You are now at the SMART adult learner website. The SMART part is important. Having motivation and a goal is really helpful. Yet combining them with smart study skills is the best thing you can do. 

Top adult learners are smart adult learners. They combine their motivation with the right habits and skills. Since habits and skills are both learnable, you can become a top adult learner as well. It starts by growing your study skillset.

What if you can read smarter, take better notes, and use your memory much more efficiently?

That 1 hour and 6 minutes can probably be less. You may be able to do this in 45 to 60 minutes. 

What would happen if you could do that? 

Well, just like I wrote earlier. You can still study for 1 hour and 6 minutes, and take the weekend off to spend with your family. 

How to do that? That is something we have a look at now…

studying made easy

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How to study one hour a day

The first thing I often hear from adult learners is this: I can’t sit down and study for one hour! I don’t have time for that! Where am I to find an entire hour. 

What comes to mind is a proverb from the Bible: Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find (Matthew 7:7)

Make sure you decide to have time to study. The moment you make time and you make studying important enough, you will find the time. 

It all starts by deciding you have time.

Having said that… do you need one hour for one session of studying?

I believe studying should be done like eating cake. You sit down to enjoy it. From the moment you sit down with your books, till the moment you are done, you should enjoy studying (or your cake).

Don’t try and swallow all of your cake in one sitting. Instead of eating 1 big piece, take for example 3 smaller pieces during the day. This way you have something to look forward to, you won’t feel guilty, and you have time to digest it. 

That is why I advise people, especially busy adult learners, to do this:

  • Study 20 minutes in the morning (read, take notes, watch a video lecture)
  • Take 10 minutes during your workday, for example during lunch have a 10-minute study session (repeat morning notes, read a few pages, or prepare for your evening session)
  • Use 30 minutes in the evening to do a longer session of studying (and take 5 minutes to prepare for the early morning session of tomorrow)

This is a schedule most people can use and maintain for a long time

Especially the evening session is nice. You have a little extra time for a deeper dive, or you can use it to finish your daily study session.

The secret to studying one hour per day is not doing it all at once. Split your study time between 3 sessions during the day. This way you don’t feel you are taking one full hour, but at the same time, you can digest all the content evenly. 

By doing this daily, you can make studying easier for yourself

How to do this studying during the day? Here’s how…


How to find study time during the day?

The easiest way to study at 3 different times during the day is simple. You don’t have to study too much in one session. You also give yourself time to fully digest all the course content. A benefit is that your brain operates differently during the day. You can benefit from this when studying as well.

study time per day

Let’s assume you are studying at home and you can study while at work. When you do, you have many options to study throughout your day. 

For your morning session, make sure you get up 20 minutes earlier. This starts the evening before where you get to bed 20 minutes earlier. This way you can get up as fresh as you normally would.

Make sure you have your study materials ready so you don’t have to prepare early during the day. When you get up, you are ready to get started (and you are not trying to find everything to study later).

Studying 10 minutes during your lunch break is easy. Have your book with you, or use your phone to go over your notes. During a 30 minute break, you just take out your phone and start reading. 

You can also use some flashcards, or you watch an online lecture. Keep it simple

Oh… and to find time to do that, you may want to leave your workplace a few minutes later, or go back a little earlier. You can do this studying at your desk, in your car, or… wherever you can take a few minutes…

The 30-minute evening session could be done when you get home after work, or even directly after work at work. This way you don’t have to study at home, and your evenings are all for you and your family. 

When you do like to study at home, you have your family meal first. After that, take about 30 minutes of NOT studying, and then start your session. Don’t swim directly after a meal, don’t study directly after a meal.

POWER TIP: You may even finish your day strong by doing a 10-minute reading session before you go to bed. This way you prime your brain for the first thing you will do when you wake up. 

Here are things to consider for your next study session…


Conclusions on How Many Hours A Day You Should Be Studying

  1. The moment you decide you want to study, you will find time to study
  2. Don’t think in terms of doing a long study session each day. Break it up into smaller sessions, each one with a specific goal (read, review, repeat).
  3. Digest your study content like you would do handle a nice cake. Eat smaller bites and don’t swallow it whole!
  4. Always (ALWAYS) be prepared to use spare time to do some sort of study session. This could be looking at flashcards on your phone when waiting in line. Or you are prepared to immediately study in the morning because you put everything on your desk in the evening. 

When you study like this, your brain will jump into study mode in seconds, giving you even more time to study.

 Do you have any questions about this or related topics? Let me know so I can help you!

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