The environment in which we exist has a powerful impact on our mood and behaviour. Your study space will influence how you study, so take the time to set it up in a way that will help you do this effectively. Here are some tips on how to do this.
Make it physically comfortable.
This includes paying attention to furniture, lighting, clothing, noise levels, temperature, and ventilation.
Make it functional.
Have all the various things you will need to study such as computer, stationery, paper, textbooks, and internet connection set up in your space. The idea is that you don’t need to leave the area in order to study. At the core of making a space functional is ensuring the space makes it easy to do the things you need to do, but hard to do the things you don’t. Set up your space so it is very easy to read, take notes, create self-test cards, and type on the computer. In contrast, make it hard to access obvious distractions such as TV, mobile phone, chatting with others, etc.
The most common distractions are people, conversations, and digital media. Where possible set up your space to be away from areas where people gather to talk or are likely to talk to you. It can be incredibly difficult to focus on work when there is conversation nearby, as our brains are wired to tune into that conversation. Generally, privacy is better.
When studying, put your phone on silent or at least turn most notifications off. Resist the temptation to have social media, email and messaging open while you work. Instead, set dedicated times to check social media, messages and emails during the day.
Studying can be a messy process and it is perfectly normal to end a study session with papers and books lying everywhere. However, it is important to regularly clean and tidy your study space. The best way to encourage this is making sure there is a proper home for your study materials such as a drawer or shelf for textbooks, papers, stationery, etc. If everything has a proper home it is much quicker to clean your space.
Make it uniquely you.
The step beyond de-cluttering is decorating. Having removed the stuff that makes you feel worse, you now replace some of it with stuff that makes you feel good. This is about crafting your study space so it contains elements that reflect your unique personality and interests. It is about making it your territory and feeling a sense of ownership over the space.
Just because you create a cool study space does not mean you should spend hours in it at a time. Regular breaks (e.g. 5-10 minutes every hour) are recommended.