The lore of UPSC is full of mythical beings with exceptional abilities. They can be awake for 20 hours and be attentive for the whole time. Some can pull serial all-nighters. Others are more tech-tech-savvy at keeping sleep at bay.
One wonders how these unscientific practices are scrupulously followed by UPSC aspirants. It is time to bust the myth of ’18 hours of mandatory study’.
The 18 Hours Myth
UPSC syllabus is humongous and needs time to cover. This is the reason behind the myth of 18 hours of study.
Before the advent of the internet and smartphones, UPSC preparation was a real grind. Much of the time was spent on gathering information, preparing notes, and studying. Even the coaching centres were less prevalent than now. Candidates spent extra hours only to prepare notes. This is not a problem now.
Time spent on foraging for notes came down drastically with the advent of technology. All the information you need is available in a single swipe.
But, even now, the myth is propagating. It especially scares the beginners. You need not.
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Remember, time is constant for any candidate. What is variable is each individual’s energy levels. It is different for different people.
A person who claims to be studying for 18 hours a day now is either lying or has exceptionally high energy levels. Because keeping your mind in an attentive state for such long hours is extremely difficult. Only a few people can manage it. Thus, the 18 hours of study is not for all.
Beginners, for you the advise is to not heed such myths. It only adds to your burden of performance. But, if you can manage 18 hours of study a day with focus and attention, no one is stopping you. Go for it.
How Many Hours Then?
First of all, 18 hours is too much, to begin with. If you are spending that many hours only for studying, where is the time to eat, sleep and perform your chores?
Here is an idea on how to divide your day.
• Sleep – 7 hrs
• Physical Activity – 1 hr
• Study Time – 12 hrs
• Daily Chores – 2 hr
• Rest/Leisure time – 2 hrs
It is scientifically proven that sleep is essential for learning. A good night’s sleep is necessary for consolidating memory and learning new information. So, do not go light on sleep. Make sure you get 6-7 hrs of sleep. If you are going by the 18 hr myth, then you will be compromising your sleep which in the long run will affect your performance.
UPSC preparation is mostly sedentary. You will be sitting for long hours studying which has adverse effects on health. It is absolutely necessary to take care of your health. Also, it helps keep your energy levels up all day. So, add in some hours of physical activity to your daily routine. A minimum of 1 hr is mentioned above. You can adjust the time as per your requirement.
12 hrs of study time is mentioned here. You can take it up to 14 hours. But not more than that. Even in these 12 hours, concentrating fully is not possible. Plan for 2-hour blocks including a 15-minute break. This should help you in being fully attentive in that hour and 45 minutes. The break will rejuvenate you for the next time block.
It is absolutely necessary to cool yourself from the pressure of studying. Use this time to talk to your loved ones; Have social interactions; pursue your hobby; or do anything that eases your mood and helps you swing back into the routine.
If you are an early riser or a night owl, scheduling the time is dependent on you. But, before chalking out a timetable, analyse your active energy phases and time being spent on chores. Plan accordingly and stick to your plan.
To Sum Up
It is clear from above that spending 12 hrs a day to study is enough. If you can train yourself to be highly attentive, even 8 hours will be enough. Be consistent in your efforts and success will actualise.
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