How To Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Studying On Weekends

Episode 282: 4 Practical Steps To Overcome The Fear Of Disappointment

This might not be advice you’ve heard before.

I’ve been a uni student for 6 years and have never heard it and I’ve only been doing following it for a few weeks myself. But I just wanted to share the idea I’ve had because it might strike a chord with you.

Over the course of my time as a uni student I have always approached study the same way – every hour of the day, every day of the week and every week of the semester is a potential time to study.

I definitely don’t study all the time, but I do feel guilty about the fact I’m not studying all of the time.

There is no boundary.

Dealing with no boundaries

I never thought it was a problem because everyone struggles with it.

Every student I know gets that nagging ‘I should be studying’ feeling, even if we’re out somewhere and can’t study. Even if we’re spending time with family and friends. Even if we’re doing something fun purely for the purpose of having a break from studying.

We feel guilty and the guilt is real. And I thought that’s just the way it is.

But a few weeks ago I had a little epiphany when I was reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

This isn’t a book that’s necessarily about study, it’s about how to work less (pretty much) and besides a few really interesting time management things I didn’t really think there was much else I could use.

But then I thought – what if I could have weekends completely off, without the thought that we ‘should be’ studying?

Weekends without study

We long for the days when there’ll be a clear distinction between work and play and yes, we’ve even said stuff like ‘I can’t wait to have a full-time job so I can have weekends off’ (don’t worry, I realise this isn’t a reality for a lot of full-time workers either).

We just felt guilty about not studying all the damn time.

We long for the 9 to 5 because we long for someone to tell us we can put the books away at 5pm (or even 8 or 9pm). But why wish away the amazing student lifestyle we have just to get the distinction between work and play?

When I actually thought about it, there’s no reason I have to study on the weekends and there’s definitely no reason I have to feel guilty about not studying on the weekends.

I can see how everyone fell into this habit though. We don’t have anyone telling us when we should be studying and when we shouldn’t – we’re in control. So we feel like it’s something we should be doing all the time and we feel guilty when we don’t.

But of course, just as soon as the idea of not studying on weekends popped into my head I immediately felt myself protesting.

Why it works

There won’t be enough time to do everything! I already study over a full time study load (I’m doing a dual degree of law and finance and a diploma in French) – I need every minute I can get!

And this would be true if I was always productive when I study. But I’m not. A lot of time that I count as ‘studying’ I’m actually doing nothing more than sitting at my desk with a book open and a cup of tea, staring blankly at the words before me. And even when I am actually studying, I’m nowhere near as effective as I could be.

I realised part of the reason I’m not productive during the week is because I tell myself I have the weekend to catch up.

There is no sense of urgency. There is no pressure on my time.

So what if I made it that I couldn’t study on the weekend? What if I used it as a way to get my weekends back (without the guilt) and to be more productive? To me it sounded too good to be true.

Is it even possible? I’m almost 100% sure it will be.

I’m the kind of person that works well with a deadline. I rise to the occasion. When I start an assignment the night before it’s due I get an adrenaline rush equivalent to that of a mother lifting a car off her newborn baby.

If you’re a student you’ll know that the struggle with guilt is real – that feeling that you ‘should be’ studying never seems to go away.

But it is possible – I’ve been doing it for the last month and absolutely loving it!

Let me know what you think! Could this work for you? Would you ever think of trying it?

Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear what you have to say.

Sam xx

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Author: Sam Brown

  • This fall I decided to go back to school for my masters. My boss was nice enough to let me continue to work part time from home. After working the 9-5 for a couple years, I was definitely not going back to giving my weekends up for studying! I make an effort to do all of my homework and studying during the week and on the nights that I don’t have class. I tell myself that this is the only time I have to do it- I set the deadline that it has to be completed by Friday afternoon. So It doesn’t even cross my mind anymore that I “should be studying” on the weekends. They should be for fun!!

    • Hey Steph!

      I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone in doing this! Setting strict deadlines is so poweful – if we don’t set them then the task just expands to fit the time we have. Love your view!

      Sam xx

  • Agreed! The guilt is very real & definitely needs to be put in check. Will definitely try out your tips & hopefully gain back guilt-free weekends.

    • Hey Kalani,

      Thanks for your comment! Please let me know if you try it out 🙂

      The guilt is so real but now after about a month of doing it I have zero guilt on the weekends – it’s so, so good!

      Sam xx

  • Great post! I know what you mean. I used to feel very guilty when I was not studying. I was a study-a-holic. Then I realized it was not good for me and I needed to take breaks. I took a course called, Learning how to Learn it it gave me some great tips! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey 🙂

      Thanks so much for your comment! Where did you take that course, it sounds really interesting!

      Sam xx

  • I wish I had read this post back in my uni days, when all my days and nights were spent with so much stress. Weekends sort of got lighter during my Master years, but the guilt didn’t go away. Wow, I never thought of it this way, but it totally makes sense Sam. So good for you trying it and working out fine.

    P.s. : Also, I just recalled that the reason I ended up hating Sundays is mainly studying related.

    • Hey Lisa,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with this Lisa! Almost everyone I know has that experience too (including me as well until a couple of weeks ago haha). No wonder we all seem to burn out after exams are going – it’s so not healthy to never have a break.

      I feel like if someone works in an office 7 days a week we would say they’re overworked and they should take a break but if someone’s not studying 7 days a week and is having weekends off then it’s like they’re slacking or something. It’s pretty interesting I think haha I guess it’s maybe because it’s self-inflicted

      Sam xx

    • Hey Marie,

      Thanks for your comment! I know I’m going to miss the days of being a student too so I’m trying my best to make the most of it now!

      Sam xx

  • This is great advice. I studied journalism in college, so I often had assignments on a whim and absolutely had to do work on the weekends, but unfortunately that mindset followed me even when I stopped working in journalism. It’s only been recently that I’ve had weekends to myself, and I think about the impending Monday grind a lot! I’m going to try to get into the mindset that if I’m not at work, I can’t do work!


    • Hey Elizabeth,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with this! I think society (and us) have created a huge trap by glamorising overworking (‘you had 4 hours sleep?! I wish! I only had 3’) when no one is really winning.

      Let me know how you go 🙂

      Sam xx

  • Even tho I’m still in high school; I’ve got lot of work; I’ve got regular homework plus I’ve got to make revision for my french exams. I’m horrible at studying, I hate working at home, I find really hard to focus. I always do the “whenever if don’t finish it I’ve got the “week-end”, and sometime there’s things that are undone because I’ve got stuff to do on the week-end and I can’t manage to do everything.And I feel quite guilty about it. But not a long a time ago I learned that scheduling is the best thing you can do when you’re a student; I decided that now that I’ll study on specific days during the week, and I’ll keep my week-end. When you’re in school from Monday to Friday, you have to take a break, it’s not good to always study; you have to find a balance. xx

  • This translates to work as well. I’m always feeling guilty during the weekends because I know there’s work I could be doing, but it’s so important to take time and disconnect in order to stay sane! You burn out without the proper breaks and it’s counterproductive. Weekends were made for fun 😉

  • The guilt is so real it’s unbelievable. Your post reached out to me in so many ways! I literally thought I was alone in the feeling. I’m a med student, and despite common misconceptions – I’m not the type-A nerd that most of us are stereotyped as. In fact, most of my class isn’t. There’s a group of students that keep their heads down and work very hard, but most of us have awful work ethic – maybe thats because school, without sounding condescending, was probably not a challenge and therefore we haven’t been forced to develop productive studying skills.

    I definitely spend a lot of time reading and making notes, instead of just learning the topic at hand. I think the guilt can in some ways be overwhelming – and for me especially, it’s so powerful that it makes me want to avoid it completely. Then it’s about halfway through the semester, and I realise I’ve got about a month of classes I have to catch up on. I think this semester, I genuinely need all the days I can get before exams- but the next one, I will 100% try this method out because the stress is truly taking years off my life.

    Thanks for the article – it was a good read. Will definitely be checking for more updates! 🙂

  • I feel guilty after giving exams because that time I felt that if I was done more hardwork then I got good grade semester. Now a days I m preparing myself for IELTS, but whenever someone is told me that you are not going good for exam after doing hardwork that I loose my confident.I am trying to say that some time we felt guilty about our study but its real..sorry if grammar is wrong.and also if you help me to learn English language then I m very thankful to Sam xx.
    My email

  • I feel this way all the time. I am currently a sophomore in undergrad and every night is like a nightmare, my brain refuses to let me rest sometimes even when I literally have nothing to do. Something is always telling me I should be doing something no matter what time of the day, and quite frankly I am glad I didn’t do homework the last 2 nights, because I didn’t need to. I knew that, but still that voice continued to fester and continues to even as I write this.

    Starting to realize that there are times where it is important to listen to it, and times not to, and that it is just going to be like this forever. But I also know that I work very hard in school and I am a damn good student and I know when the time comes for me to do the work I need to do, I always get it done, sometimes its just hard for that voice to quiet down even though I know there is no reason for it to be driving me nuts

  • You clearly wrote this ages ago but it resonates profoundly with me. I do always feel bad and I already have the 9 to 5 along with school and still feel bad. I do need to stop guilting myself into mediocre studying. I’ll try this and see how it turns out. I really hope the guilt goes away though. LOL. Thanks for sharing. It’s good to know someone else suffers the same guilt trips.

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