Build Study Stamina with the 50/10 Rule

Have you found yourself studying for a few minutes, and then taking a break that lasts for over an hour? I'm sorry to say this, but I'm afraid that you have a case of poor study stamina.

Getting good grades with poor study stamina is like trying to run a marathon when you can barely run more than 1 mile at a time. Just as it takes practice and deliberation to gain the stamina required to run marathons, it takes practice and deliberation to build the stamina required to study for hours on end.

Here's how you can build your study stamina.

Adopt the 50/10 Rule

The "50/10 Rule" doesn't stand for some crazy government proposition to legalize marijuana trade to the great state of Atlantis. It simply means that for every 50 minutes that you study, you can give yourself a 10 minute break.

For many who aren't use to studying, this idea of a 5:1 study-to-break ratio might seem insane. It is difficult at first, sure. But it works. Here's why:

  • It's easy to keep track of. The rule works for 60-minute intervals, meaning you can start studying at the beginning of the hour, go on break at :50, and repeat the cycle at the start of the next hour.
  • A 10 minute break at the end of the hour is ideal, because you avoid getting sucked into the middle of a TV program.
  • Giving yourself a 10 minute break allows you to do things that are beneficial for yourself (list coming soon). Taking longer breaks makes it tempting to start watching TV or a movie, aimlessly surfing the web for useless content, chatting with friends, etc.
  • You get your studying done, like a bau5 (boss)! If you do a few intervals of studying for 50 minutes straight per day, you will be amazed at how much material you can cover.

Getting Started
So now that you've learned the benefits of the 50/10 rule, lets look at how to begin your own 50/10 regimen.
The idea of the 50/10 is to make you happy by allowing you to get work done. It might do the opposite (make you miserable) if you're not used to focusing so hard for 50 minutes straight.
Transition into the 50/10 rule by starting with a 40/20 rule - study for 40 minutes and take a break for 20 minutes. Or do a 20/10 rule, where you study for 20 minutes and take a break for 10 minutes.

Then slowly begin to ease your way to more studying time. Proceed to a 45/15 rule and keep practicing with that for a while. Then once you built up enough stamina, start studying with the 50/10 rule.

Drowning Out Distraction

The biggest enemy you have is distraction. 50 minutes of straight studying means that you study for 50 minutes without interruption - that means you can't quickly check your facebook wall, browse Tumblr for a few seconds, or check out the popular YouTube vids for the day.

Kill distraction... unless it's a person! If you find yourself getting distracted, turn off your computer and study. Better yet, study in the library and keep your phone in your backpack.

If your distraction results from your mind veering off course, then tell yourself that you will fantasize/daydream to your hearts content once the 10 minute break starts. We often daydream because we feel like we need to explore a thought/idea before it becomes discarded.

But if you tell yourself that you will definitely explore said thought or idea during a set time, then your mind will clear up for the 50 minutes study period in the 50/10 rule.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is an android app called magic work cycle that is rather helpful as well.

  2. To help this work better, study in a group, either literally or virtually. Occasionally a small group I am part of will have "Super Productivity Saturdays" where we will either use a Google Hangout or a service like FreeConferenceCalls.com. We get together, briefly state what we will be working on for the next 50 minutes and go get to work. We then come back to briefly state what we accomplished and what we will be working on for the next 50 minutes. Then we go take a little break, grab a snack, use the bathroom, stretch, get some sunshine, etc, and then work another 50 minutes. String 4 or 5 of these together, with the accountability, and you can get more done in that 5 hours than in most weekends. I think it's great that you are recommending this 50:10 format. It can be awesome.

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