With exam season around the corner, scheduling enough time to finish major assignments and prepare for finals is critical. Beyond scheduling enough time to study, students often fail to recognize the importance of one’s environment for their overall focus and productivity. The formula may seem simple: just find a quiet space, open your course materials, and start studying. In my first year, I used to think the same too. Whenever finals rolled around, I used to dump all my textbooks and notes onto my desk and did not know where to begin. In reality, productive studying is reliant on a variety of factors, including one’s environment. With that said, there are a variety of tips and tricks that students can utilize to maximize their study space for success.
Pick a dedicated study space
The first step to maximizing your study space is allocating a dedicated space in your home to study in. Your study space can range from a room, to a quiet corner of your home – whatever is accessible. Remember, studying can sometimes feel daunting, so it’s important to pick a space that will allow you to remain both comfortable and focused on your task (Ameritech College of Healthcare, 2014).
Sometimes our study spaces will also be used for brainstorming ideas (for essays or assignments), so consider picking spaces that will allow you to stimulate your creativity. When picking your spot, ensure the space is one that can be used long-term and returned to throughout the semester. Most importantly, remember to pick a space that you like. A dedicated study space is one of the many factors that enable students to stay on track and in control of their daily routines (Heo, 2018).
Create the environment
In setting the stage for productivity and success, a good chair and desk are fundamental building blocks. If a dedicated desk cannot be acquired, a space on a larger table should work, as long as you have enough room for all your materials. When picking a chair, ensure it is one that aligns with the height of the desk or table (Heo, 2018). This will ensure that you’re able to write or type without experiencing any unnecessary muscle or joint strain. In addition, a chair that is ergonomic is the most desirable, as it has been associated with posture support, enhanced productivity and improved blood circulation (Gates, 2020).
Illuminate the space
Good lighting can make the biggest difference when it comes to staying focused and being productive. When illuminating your study space, try experimenting with the lighting in your environment and see what works for you. A general guide is to look for sources of natural light in the day time and sources of artificial light (like desk lamps) in the night (Ameritech College of Healthcare, 2014). Above all, make sure that you’re able to see your study materials clearly at all times.
Remove all distractions, including your phone
We all know the feeling when we get completely sidelined by the most minute distractions. For most of us, the biggest culprits are often our phones. A 15-minute break to scroll through your social media can turn into a three-hour activity. A simple five-minute video may lead to a two-hour viewing of a random documentary. In short, keeping your phone turned off and away from your study space will ensure that you’re not susceptible to the distraction powers of your phone.
When thinking about phone distractions, it’s also important to consider other technologies as well. Ask yourself whether there are any other pieces of technology that may distract you from your work (like a video game console or TV), then find ways to eliminate them. A good distraction-free study space will allow you to maximize your attention on studying without having to deal with the constant barrage of distractions that often surround you (Patterson, 2020).
Arrange all essential items
Another building block to a successful study space is having all the essential items that make studying possible in the first place. Having all of your essential items in one place ensures that you’ll be able to devote more time to completing your tasks and less time to searching for important materials (Patterson, 2020). When it comes to our materials, essential items are highly individualized and based on course requirements as well as personal preferences.
The following are some essential study items that you may consider adding to your study space:
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Mouse and keyboard
- Writing utensils (pencils, erasers, pens, highlighters, etc.)
- Post-it notes
- Calendar and/or agenda
- Beverages (water, coffee, tea, etc.)
Now that you’ve acquired all your essential study items, it’s important to ensure they’re neat and tidy. Make sure your items stay in their designated place to avoid clutter as much as possible (Heo, 2018). A good tip is to organize your study space weekly instead of when it gets out of hand. Take a few minutes out of your week to arrange any loose pages, folders or writing utensils, and discard anything that you no longer need. Being able to maintain your space will ensure that your essential items are accessible at all times (Heo, 2018).
Make it positive
Sometimes breathing positivity into our study spaces can make the biggest difference when it comes to staying motivated and being productive. Bringing positivity to your space can take on many shapes and forms, including adding meaningful posters, quotes, photos, post-it reminders, fun paperweights or even plants. In fact, according to NASA, certain houseplants have the ability to improve indoor air quality, which can make the air easier to breathe (Ameritech College of Healthcare, 2014). Consider adding some accessories to your study space to serve as positive daily reminders.
The components of a successful study session are interdependent; they work alongside each other to guarantee a productive outcome. In having effective study strategies and skills, one must not forget the importance of an effective study space. Simple tips pertaining to lighting or environment can make a world of a difference when it comes to maximizing your study space for success. For me, a maximized study space through the removal of distractions and the use of a dedicated desk allowed me to stay on track and feel much more in control of my exam preparation. Remember, a maximized study space will increase the likelihood of productive study sessions, allowing you to focus more on your courses and less on your environment.
Ameritech College of Healthcare. (2014). 10 Tips for Creating Your Ideal Study Space. https://www.ameritech.edu/blog/tips-make-environment-best-study-space/
Gates, J. (2020, July 23). 10 Reasons Why Ergonomic Chairs Are So Important In The Office. Office Interiors. https://www.officeinteriors.ca/blog/10-reasons-why-ergonomic-chairs-are-so-important-in-the-office/
Heo, J. (2018). Creating the Best Study Space For Yourself. Matrix Education. https://www.matrix.edu.au/creating-the-best-study-space-for-yourself/
Patterson, R. (2020, August 19). How to Create a Great Study Space (With Examples). College Info Geek. https://collegeinfogeek.com/create-study-space