There are a few preparation steps you can take into consideration before studying. It is helpful to know in advance what you are going to study and how you are going to do it. The first step to planning your study session is to decide when is the best time to dedicate to language studying, maybe during the weekend or maybe during the week. What works best for you. Some people find it useful to focus once a week and get a lot done in just one session, other find it more productive to focus 30 minutes a day, for example.
Decide the time for your study session
It might be useful to plan out the topics you are going to study for the whole month, so that when it is time for you to study, you don’t find yourself not knowing what to study. It might be frustrating and you might find yourself studying the same things over and over again. Instead, if you simply check your plan, you can move onwards and learn new things. Having everything planned out is also useful to track back to what you have already studied in the past, so you don’t repeat yourself, as I was saying before. When I say “topics”, I mean the content of your study session. Are you going to study grammar? If so, what grammatical aspect of the language you are studying? Verbs, articles, pronouns, etc?
Plan the topics you are going to study
One more thing before starting: because the brain doesn’t stay focused for that long, you might want to also plan a few breaks in your study session. This way your learning will be much more effective than staying stuck on something you don’t understand.
Also plan a few breaks to distract yourself
We have now planned the study session for what concerns the theory, say you have planned to study the subjunctive mood for the whole month of May. Then you want to put into practice what you have studied in theory. You can decide whether you want to do exercises right at the end of every session, or a summary exercise session at the end of the month. It depends on what works best for you. One thing I would recommend for everyone, regardless of when you want to do your exercises, is that at the end of the month, or at the end of every topic you choose to study, you take your time to see how the subjunctive mood, for example, is used in context and in everyday language. So my tip is plan a session where you read, listen to, or watch real language in use for the topic you have studied.
Look at how language is used in context by native speakers
This is very useful because exercises you find in grammar books or textbooks are written for a purpose, that is make the students practice on a specific grammar topic. So the exercise are made ad hoc for your to study. One thing is the language you study in books, and another is language you experience from native speakers. It will give you a whole different perspective.
This is just one way to tackle the learning process, especially if you are teaching yourself a language. If you attend a language class, everything is already planned out for you by the teacher, I guess.
You have done everything by yourself up to this point, so it would be nice to have someone to discuss your results with, it could be a language partner or a native speaker who can give you directions and tips.
Have someone to learn with
This could be helpful for the whole process, or maybe just for topics you find particularly challenging. Having someone to learn with can be very stimulating.
You can see an example of study planner below. It is just to give you an idea on how to do it: