Most college students spend a significant amount of time studying – an average of 17 hours a week, according to one study. That is nearly a part-time job, and tough to fit in for students who already have a career, a family and/or other obligations to manage.
Personally, I’ve found that having the right study environment is key to my academic success. Studying is such a large part of our lives as students, it’s important to establish a space in which we can be both comfortable and productive.
Here are my tips for creating a study space you want to be in:
1. Location, location, location
The first step to creating your study space is to choose a comfortable location. This can be a personal office, a desk in your bedroom, or a chair at the kitchen table. The important part is to choose an area with minimal interruptions – a quiet, relaxing space where you can focus and get work done. By dedicating a particular area to your schoolwork, you can train your brain to focus exclusively on studying, and not your list of to-dos or other distractions.
Keep in mind that you don’t really need to have an office to create a quiet, functional work environment. In fact, many people enjoy working in more open and collaborative spaces, such as a study room at the library with a close group of classmates. Find the types of spaces that work best for you, or mix it up a bit throughout the week so that you don’t start to feel bored or isolated when you are studying.
2. Use background noise to stay focused
Not every student can close the door and have total silence while doing schoolwork. Many of us probably have kids running around, making noise and meeting their daily quota of times they can hear the word “Mommy!”
Being able to drown out the world around you is essential to making the most of your study time. Grab some earbuds or headphones and get to work, listen to those lectures while you review your notes, or play some inspiring music while you make things happen!
3. Stay organized
Keep all of your supplies in one place and make sure that it stays organized. This does not have to be a desk drawer. It could be something simple and small, like a zipper pouch on the front of your notebook that holds a pencil and your favorite pen. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to find what you need; you don’t want to waste precious study time searching for supplies or class materials.
4. Consider the lighting in your space
Spending hours in front of your computer or staring at your phone screen can strain your eyes, making you feel tired and drained. The bluish light from screens has even been shown to disrupt your sleep patterns – bad news if you are studying right before bed.
To reduce strain on your eyes, make sure that your study space has adequate lighting. If your room does not receive lots of natural light, invest in a small desk or floor lamp. This is especially important if you are studying at night or early in the morning. You’ll feel more awake and focused in proper lighting, and you’re likely to be more productive as a result.
5. Plan your study sessions
If you have kids, then you know it’s not always possible to spend a few hours at a time preparing for an important exam. It might be easier to get your studying done in between appointments, while the kids are at school, or after everyone has gone to bed. Planning ahead is vital. Schedule your study time for when you know it will be quiet and you can remain focused with minimal distractions. You can also experiment with a few different times to find a routine that works best for you. For example, some people might study best at night, while others are more productive in the morning.
6. Add inspiration
What motivates you? What makes you want to conquer the world? Capture the essence of that motivation – in photos, posters, Post-it notes, etc. – and display it in your study area. Let those words or images be a constant reminder of your goals and why you are going to school. These will be your sunshine on a rainy day, the things that motivate and inspire you when you are having trouble getting through a tough week.
Don’t let a boring study space hold you back! With these tips, you can create the perfect study environment and study routine so you can stay productive and focused throughout the semester.