Build a Productive Weekend Routine for Students

Starting the study abroad journey is both exciting and demanding on you. The lively campuses, different cultures, new friendships and of course your classes definitely keep you busy. But with so many things going on, the weekend routine of students can end up all over the place. How can you balance your academic life, getting enough rest, and making the most of your time abroad, in two days?

In this blog, we’ll unfold the steps on how to be productive on weekends. So, in the spirit of making the most of the time we have, let’s get going!

7 Ways to Set Up a Good Weekend Routine for Students

We know the feeling of planning all the things we want to do over the weekend only to spend most of it sleeping and watching Netflix. Monday becomes the scariest day of the week then, because everything you needed to do, you did not get to. Which is all the more reason why balancing work and play is the key to a productive weekend!

After a week spent in classes, quizzes, and assignments, it’s natural to feel exhausted. But you also don’t want to fall behind on the recommended reading you have to do for your next quiz or the assignment due soon. With proper time management, though, you can manage both your deadlines and recharge for the week ahead!

1. Focus Your Learning to Use Time Efficiently

The Pomodoro technique may sound familiar to students desperate to find study hacks that work – and yes, it does work. This technique involves learning for 25 minutes and then taking a short 5-minute break. In this way, you are able to really focus, retain, and remember your learning.

While you learn something new, your brain is using its short-term memory. But short-term memory is finite – the more information you pour in, the less will actually stick. Imagine it like a bucket of water overflowing the more water you pour inside.

Instead, the short bursts of complete focus with a break in between gives your brain time to convert short-term to long-term memory. This way you are able to develop your learning like a building with a solid foundation rather than a Jenga tower!

In fact, taking a break from focusing allows your brain to start making meaningful connections between the information you learned. Because it isn’t diverting all its resources towards what is immediately in front of it, your brain takes its time to make sense of all this new information.

Have you ever had a sudden realization in the middle of brushing your teeth or in the shower? This is why! Your idle brain is still working, processing what you did all day and putting it together. The 5-minute breaks in between study sessions helps you learn in a way that will last beyond your next test.

After about four 25-minute study sessions, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. This is an excellent time to get a snack, go for a walk, watch something fun on YouTube.

By breaking your learning up like this, you are using less time to do more.

Think about it – we all know what it’s like to sit at a desk for hours and feel like we remember nothing the next day. Cramming is not great for your short- or long-term memory!

Using the Pomodoro technique, you not only make time to work, but time to relax and play too. The latter is an equally important part of how to have a productive weekend!

2. Rise and Shine Early(ish)

There is a scientific case for how sleep helps productivity. Your brain doesn’t simply turn off when you go to bed. As you sleep, your brain is sorting through what you learned in the day and converting it into long-term memory.

This is why you might realize that you don’t actually remember most of what you crammed during an all-nighter. Sleep deprivation not only impacts your memory retention, but also your ability to focus. You’re far more likely to make mistakes during a test if you didn’t sleep before it. So, make sure you get your beauty and brain sleep in, not just for productive weekends but productive weeks overall!

And as much as we are strong advocates for sleeping in during weekends, we do want to make sure you’re getting the right sort of sleep. Staying up late into the night watching anime or hanging out with friends is a rite of passage for university students. But if you want to stick to a productive weekend routine for students, we don’t recommend making this a habit.

This is because of how your body clock – or circadian rhythms, if you want to get fancy – works. During the daytime, receptors in your eyes detect daylight and send signals to your brain that it’s time to be alert. If you sleep too late into the day, you’re missing this optimal window for productivity!

Here’s our recommendations for good sleep practices to make the most of your day:
  • Hold off on meals, snacks, drinks and such before bedtime. Otherwise, you might stay up while your body digests or wake up in the middle of the night to go to the loo
  • No caffeine before bed. This is pretty self-explanatory, since caffeine can stay in your system for hours after drinking. You might only find yourself falling asleep when the birds outside are waking up
  • Put the devices down. Your phone, laptop, iPad screen etc. all produce blue light – a component of visible light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. As a result, the longer you keep staring at your screen, the more your brain forces itself to stay awake and alert. If you have to be on your devices, to study or because you really can’t do without some extra watch hours, switch the colour temperature of your device to a yellow, blue-light filtering setting. We also recommend blue-light filtering glasses!

3. Go and Explore the World Outside Your Dorm

After a week of intense classes, disengaging from the rush of tests and deadlines can help you relax. This eases you into the weekend. Perhaps you can take a stroll in a nearby park or discover the scenic locations of your campus. Enjoy the change of scenery and make the sights and sounds of this foreign country feel like home.

This will help you to overcome cultural shock as well. The more familiar you become with your new home, the more comfortable you will be here. Over time, any anxiety that comes from your fear of getting lost or being in a strange new place will give way to a feeling of belonging.

The anxiety and stress from being in a new place, the homesickness of being away from the familiar – all of this can be unproductive towards your weekend routine as a student. It might feel easier to stay in bed or hide away indoors. But the more comfortable you feel in your surroundings, the easier it will be for you to make the most of your time abroad.

Many experts say the afternoon is an opportunity for exploration. If you are up for going out, visit local landmarks, museums, or markets. And yes, as we discussed in the previous section, going out during the daytime helps you get all that great, naturally-occurring blue light. This is a very natural way to wake up your biological system for the day!

Take it a step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be the tour guide showing family and friends around when they come by to visit!

4. Plan Your Weekend Must-Do’s

Did you put off your laundry for the weekend? Is there an assignment due a couple of weeks later that you want to get a head-start on? Write it all down – use a planner, journal, calendar, or your phone.

By mapping out what you need to do, you have a visual reminder and structure to follow. Otherwise, it can get all muddled up in your head, and you’re more likely to forget.

There’s also a scientific reason for why to-do lists work. Checking off a task brings a sense of accomplishment and reward – this happens because of a spike of a brain-chemical called dopamine. This dopamine is the secret to your motivation and productivity!

Your brain learns to anticipate a reward when you’re checking off things on your to-do list, and releases dopamine that keeps your focus and motivation levels high. So, take advantage of this piece of brain science and use to-do lists to your advantage!

A bit of warning though – make sure the items of your list are realistic. “Do the laundry”, “go grocery shopping”, “finish chapter 5 for next week” – these are all realistic to-do list items. “Finish assignment” might not be – it’s too broad of a task, and can have the opposite effect of motivating you if you fail to check it off. So be realistic and break your bigger tasks, like “chores”, into smaller ones, like “clean the kitchen sink” and “take out the trash”.

5. Get in Some Exercise

If you are an activity-lover, you can join a local sports club or hit the gym with friends. And even if you aren’t, a brisk walk and some indoor exercises can still make a difference. Studying abroad is not just about hitting the books constantly. Looking after yourself is a key part of the ensuring your success as an international student.

There is plenty of scientific evidence supporting the role of exercise in the weekend routine for students. Physical activity can:

  • Keep you in a great mood as you navigate student life
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Improve the quality of your sleep
  • Help you focus on your studies
  • Maintain better energy and stamina through the day
  • Keep your motivation up for a busy week

6. Get to Know Your Community

Why not plan a gathering with classmates? Try a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish from their home country. It’s not just a meal – it’s an opportunity to get to know your new friends, their lives, where they come from.

Our introvert readers may think this is an impossible task. But if someone reaches out to you to hang out, take up their offer. Socialization and community also have scientifically proven benefits for mental and emotional health, productivity, and motivation. Take it little by little – lunch with two or three people, bowling with a group of five, a group trip to the cinema.

It makes things easier that universities and on-campus residences often host activities that help students connect with each other. This is typically the case wherever you are in the world, whether you’re studying in the USA or across the pond. We encourage you to sign up for these, even if you’d rather spend the free couple of hours sleeping in. You never know – you might find yourself companions for your next adventures right here!

Try to create memories and a feeling of community. Experiences can be a lot more fun with people to share them! You can:

  • Join a language exchange meetup, where you can practice your language skills
  • Invite roommates or friends for board game nights or trips to the cinema
  • Join a sports team or sign up for clubs or societies to bond with people over similar interests

7. Make Time for Things You Enjoy

When assignment pressure kicks off it might seem like doing anything other than gluing yourself to your laptop is a bad idea. And if you know our old friend procrastination well, you also know the feeling of losing hours of time doing something you don’t even enjoy only to speed-run a paper minutes before the deadline.

Trust us, making time for your hobbies and yourself helps with that. Treat yourself to a cozy breakfast at the neighbourhood café, schedule a call home with family and friends, read a book. Spend late afternoons engaging in a hobby or attending a local event. Why not try out things like painting classes, soccer games, or poetry reading sessions?

Look into the places on campus or nearby offering activities you love or want to try. A one-day class or workshop could turn into a lifelong passion. Trying new things and developing new skills and habits don’t just help make life more interesting. They have learning, health, and brain benefits too!

Learning new things is like exercise for your brain. Even exploring new ways of interacting with the world has this effect – like learning how to ride a bike. As your brain wires new experiences and learning into it, it sharpens its other functions too. This includes memory, the ability to focus, and how well you learn. Yes, this includes all kinds of learning, including what you’ll do in class! And all of these are pretty important for the average university student!

Besides, balancing doing the things you love to do with your academic commitments helps you lead a healthy work-life balance. You are in better spirits and less likely to fall down the procrastination rabbit hole. So make time for yourself in your productive weekend routine for students!


Benefits of Maintaining a Productive Weekend Routine for Students

A productive weekend can bring about numerous benefits that extend beyond the immediate satisfaction of completing tasks. Here are some advantages:

1. Reduced Stress:

When you tackle important tasks over the weekend, you start the following week with a lighter load. This can significantly reduce stress and make the upcoming week more manageable.

2. Increased Productivity:

A productive weekend for students sets a positive tone for the week ahead. By accomplishing tasks and goals, you build momentum and carry that proactive energy into your work, studies, and student life.

3. Improved Time Management:

You need effective time management skills to plan and execute a productive weekend. This skill naturally spills over into your weekday routines. It helps you make the most of your time and prioritize tasks effectively.

4. Enhanced Well-Being:

Accomplishing tasks and engaging in activities that bring you joy can bring your overall well-being up too. It can be discovering a new hobby, exercising, or spending quality time with loved ones. These activities can boost your mood and satisfaction.

5. Better Work-Life Balance:

A productive weekend helps to keep a healthier balance between your work or academic responsibilities and your personal life. It ensures that you dedicate time not only to your professional or academic pursuits but also to relaxation and recreation.

6. Goal Achievement:

If you set specific goals for the weekend and accomplish them, you’re actively working towards your short-term objectives. This sense of achievement will push you a step forward toward personal growth and motivation.

7. Increased Confidence:

Meeting deadlines, completing tasks, and achieving goals over the weekend contribute to a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, helps you keep up your confidence and motivation as you take on the challenges of studying abroad like a pro.

8. Quality Time with Others:

A productive weekend doesn’t necessarily mean all work and no play. It can involve spending quality time with friends and family. Meaningful social connections contribute positively to your mental and emotional well-being. In turn, this has an effect on how you’re performing in school!

9. Personal Growth:

Engaging in activities that challenge you or contribute to your skills and knowledge builds personal growth. Whether it’s learning a new skill, pursuing a hobby, or completing a personal project, productive weekends can be transformative.

10. Improved Sleep Quality:

Following a weekend routine for students can positively impact your sleep patterns. When you accomplish your tasks on time and feel a sense of control over your responsibilities, it can lead to better sleep quality. And we already know why sleep is a big deal for learning!


What a Good Weekend Routine for Students Looks Like

Now you know all the benefits of following a weekend routine for students abroad and the science-backed benefits of our tips. What a “productive Saturday” means for you can look very different compared to someone else, but here’s ideas to get you planning.

Morning Routine

When you wake up early, your morning routine is up for a fresh start. So, set a wake-up time with a sufficient night’s sleep of 7-8 hours. Aim for consistency to regulate your body’s internal clock. As you wake up, resist the temptation to check your phone immediately. Instead, take some time to do some light stretches to get your blood pumping, take some focused breaths. This sets a positive tone for the day.

Then, you can engage in a morning exercise routine, whether it’s a quick jog, yoga, or a home workout. Physical activity boosts energy levels and enhances mood. Following exercise, have a nutritious breakfast that includes a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This gives your brain and body the fuel you need for a productive weekend routine for students.

Daytime Routine

Daytime is full of activities and engagements. Plan your study sessions with a clear focus on tasks and goals. Break down the big things you need to do into smaller to-do list items. Use techniques like the Pomodoro method—work for a set period, then take a short break. This helps maintain concentration and prevents burnout. Organize and schedule your tasks on the basis of priority.

Try to take breaks throughout the day for 15-20 minutes. This will help you prevent burnout and maintain mental clarity. Use these breaks to do something enjoyable or relaxing, such as going for a walk, listening to music, or chatting with friends. Additionally, allocate time for personal tasks, such as running errands or pursuing hobbies.

Evening Routine

As the evening approaches, engage in activities that signal to your body and mind that it’s time to wind down. This could include reading a book, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or taking a warm bath. Avoid screen time at least an hour before bedtime to promote better sleep.

As the last day of the weekend knocks, take some time in the evening to plan and organize for the next day. Review your schedule, prioritize tasks, and set goals. Lay out your clothes, gather any materials you’ll need, and make a to-do list. This gives you a smooth start to the next day. Also, you can mentally relax in the evening, knowing you are ready for the week ahead.

Remember that the goal is to personalize the routine to your requirements and tastes. There is no one-size-fits-all template for productive weekend routines for students. However, there should in general be enough time for you to meet your academic commitments, as well as make time for yourself.


Effective Weekend Studying Strategies

  • Set clear goals for the weekend study sessions.
  • Create a study schedule and allocate time blocks for different tasks.
  • Prioritize tasks and deadlines and tackle systemically.
  • Minimize distractions by turning off notifications and finding a quiet study space.
  • Use active learning techniques like summarizing information and teaching concepts to yourself.
  • Take strategic breaks, following methods like the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Review and reinforce material covered during the week.
  • Keep study materials organized for easy access.
  • Use technology to boost work while minimizing distractions.
  • Don’t study the same thing for too long to keep your brain actively engaged.
  • Consider collaborating with peers in study groups for diverse perspectives.
  • Stay hydrated, have nutritious snacks, and incorporate light physical activity.
  • Track progress and celebrate small victories for motivation.
  • Reflect on achievements and areas for improvement to plan for the upcoming week.


Tips for Maintaining Consistency

To be consistent, you must create a routine that fits your priorities and set reasonable goals. Break down bigger activities, utilize reminders, and be flexible to unexpected developments. Accountability partners, regular reflection, and recognizing small achievements all help the process.

Reduce distractions, incorporate work into everyday routines, and learn from setbacks. Understand the “why” behind your goals and be kind to yourself, as consistency is about progress more than perfection.

Visual reminders, tracking your progress, and frequent reviews help you to be on track. If you can create a balance by adopting these habits into your daily routine, you can keep them consistent. Learning these tips for a relaxed yet productive weekend will help you throughout life.


Rounding Up

Your weekend is not just a pause. While studying abroad, practicing the weekend routine for students can boost your academic and personal success. Never hesitate to develop your student experience by engaging with local cultures, interesting study sessions, and self-care opportunities. Every weekend is an opportunity to add value to your journey. Your weekends matter; make them count.

Date Published: Nov-08-2023

Our Dream Makers are expert listeners, educators, career consultants and student supporters. They co-design your study abroad experience with you to empower you to reach for the stars. Because dreams deserve a helping hand.

About the author

This blog was written by Gradstar Global Education.