Forming a study habit - Time of day

When is a good time to study? When I ask this question to colleagues, the usual response is "When the kids have gone to bed". I count myself lucky as the only children I have are 5 cats, which are fairly independent nowadays.


I use a tool called RescueTime ( which monitors everything I get up to while on my phone and laptop. The value of this tool highlights where I am least productive. Productivity is how I define it, so hanging out on or browsing isn't the best use of my time.

Let's take a look at a typical work week,

What we can see here is that soon as 5pm comes around, I am distracted. This is the time frame I commute home, a 1-hour window on public transport. Could I slot study into here?

If we break down this overall distracting time, we can see a huge 1-hour 24-minute duration, browsing the web on my phone. Even worse, 20 minutes looking at a blank tab in chrome. That little bit of time, if recouped, could give me more study time. 

Typically, I study for 1 Pomodoro, on my commute to work (Please see learn more about Pomodoro). This fits, timewise, quite well and with noise-cancelling headphones, I can go about it with minimal distraction. The commute home is a different story. Unlike the way in, the way out of Manchester at 5pm is noisy and standing room only. 

Friday, the 3rd of January, I decided to experiment. If I woke up early, I would get to work early thus leave work early. My hypothesis is, the commute home at 4pm will be quiet, quiet enough that I could fit in study time. To give you an idea what happened that day;

6:00amAlarm clock goes off
6:40amLeft front door, after showering, breakfast etc.
6:55amBoarded the morning tram
7:30amArrived at work
4:00pmLeft work
4:05pmBoarded the tram

In that morning commute, I managed to write my blog for a solid half-hour.  On the commute back, 35-minutes of mathematics study. To me, this worked well. I was not tired, not distracted, not feeling the urge to see the latest noise on social media. I felt productive.

Will this work for you?

I doubt many of you have the same daily schedule as me, some may have longer commutes, some may drive, everyone is different. I also haven't talked about weekends. 

What would work for you is the data-driven approach to optimising your life. You could use; RescueTime, pen & paper, or spreadsheets. Use anything that will give you honest and accurate measurements on what you are up to. Use the data to answer the question "When can I study?" and form experiments to test it. Good luck.

And here is my cat helping me study


Popular posts from this blog

Review of High-Performance Java Persistence by Vlad Mihalcea

Example of a Continuous delivery pipeline

Forming a study habit - Pomodoro technique