Study Tips from Pope Benedict XVI

We all know that Pope Benedict XVI (aka, Joseph Ratzinger) recently resigned as the Pope of the Catholic Church. Apparently, the last Pope to resign was 600 years ago. The world went up in arms of hearing the news. All of that is interesting and all, but what I really cared about is this: What can we learn about study habits and routines from Pope Benedict XVI? Are there actually study tips from Pope Benedict we can learn from?

A Day in the Life of Pope Benedict XVI

So what exactly does the Pope do all day? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this before; or maybe not. Regardless, it’s a good question or at least it’s a half interesting one.

FYI: As an aside, Pope Benedict speaks several languages fluently including German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

But, wait, there’s a point to all of this. What if we can actually learn something about learning to study, learning how to learn, and something about self-discipline from the Pope’s daily schedule? Let’s see. Here’s his daily schedule as reported by Time Magazine:

The Pope’s day begins at 7 a.m. with Mass; one hour later breakfast is served. At 9 a.m. the Pope goes into his private study, the one where he recites the Angelus prayer every Sunday, speaking from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. He does his work in the study, where another consecrated laywoman, Birgit, helps him in her role as secretary and typist — she can read Benedict’s tiny handwriting better than anyone else.

Following Birgit in the study is Gänswein, the Pope’s secretary, to discuss the day’s agenda. Typically, the Pontiff works until 11 a.m., when audiences, or meetings, begin. At 1:15 p.m. lunch is served, with the secretaries and the memores sitting at the table with Benedict.

After a brief stroll in the roof garden, the Pope rests, to return to his private study at 4 p.m. He says the rosary and then resumes his work. After a prayer, dinner is served at 7:30 p.m., in time to watch the 8 p.m. newscast on RAI, the Italian state broadcaster. An hour later, the Pope says good night and retires, though he works some more before going to sleep.

Let’s glean some the nuggets that might help you frame your schedule for success.

Study Tips from Pope Benedict

  • The Pope wakes up early: This is key. When you attack your day by waking up, becoming alert and sensitive to the world around you, you senses can take in more information and you are sensitive to stimuli. This means you can learn better from lectures, books that you read, and also from experiments that you run.
  • Pope Benedict Eats Breakfast: Crazy, I know, but part of attacking your day is to wake up to it and then arm yourself with the energy and nutrients you need to be successful. This means you should eat a healthy breakfast.
  • The Pope Takes Time for Self Reflection: The Pope takes time to think, reflect, self evaluate, and to offer worship to God. Regardless of your religious affiliation, taking time to reflect and to think alone will help you be successful in your day.
  • Pope Benedict is Social: Human interaction – no, not through social media – but actual human interaction, is critical to having a successful day. Humans are social creatures and sociality will help you in your study habits by sharpening your ability to take in outside stimuli.
  • The Pope Rests: Pope Benedict XVI rests his mind and body during the day. This is important to regenerate yourself for the remainder of the day.
  • Pope Benedict Works Hard: He does. I’m not sure exactly what that work entails, but he works until 8 PM. That shows dedication and also self-discipline.
  • The Pope Goes to Bed at a Decent Hour: As important as waking up early is to go to bed early. When you are able to close your eyes, turn off your brain, that gives your mind and body a chance to recover and to heal and sets you up for success the next day.

Now, let’s talk about you. As you look at your personal schedule, does it resemble the Pope’s day? If not, is there something you can learn from how he attacks his day? Would making modifications to your day help you be successful?

Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose, but a ton to gain.

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