Studying: the dreaded S word that all university and college students avoid until they can avoid it no more. But I’ve got good news! There are simple ways that you can motivate yourself to get cracking on that next study session just by improving your studying environment! Here are the tips and tricks that I find helpful when it comes to creating a productive study space:
How can you expect yourself to concentrate and be productive if your desk/study space is filled with unnecessary clutter? Clear the clutter out of your dedicated study area before your next study session to reduce distractions and give you more space to spread out your books and other studying materials.
Step AWAY from the electronics!
Put. Your. Phone. DOWN.
If you’re constantly checking your phone or getting distracted every time you get a notification you’ll never get anything done. It’s a good idea to unplug from your phone, computer, and any other electronics which will distract you from the task at hand. I recommend leaving your phone in another room or turning it off and putting it in a drawer where it will be out of sight and out of mind.
Invest in a good lighting fixture
Lighting is important to improving your concentration. A well-lit space can mean the difference between being awake and attentive versus fatigued and distracted.
Get everything you need for studying before you sit down to start
Get your textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, coffee, tea, snacks, and anything else you might need ready before you sit down to study. While it’s important to take breaks while you study, you don’t want to be taking a break every time you need a pen or a drink of water. Keep the essentials close by to ensure that you stay on task and power through that study session.
While I’ve already touched on the importance of putting your phone away during study sessions, it’s also important to eliminate other distractions in your study space. This could mean studying alone rather than studying in a group with friends who distract you. Alternatively, this could also be as simple as turning off your music or listening to white noise (I prefer the sound of ocean waves) to drown out the sounds around you that you can’t control.
Be mindful of the time by keeping a clock nearby
Before you start to study, create a schedule for yourself and plan your break times ahead. This will not only keep you motivated to get to those break times, but it will also keep you on track by ensuring that you are sticking to shorter scheduled breaks rather than accidentally taking an hour-long YouTube or five hour Netflix break.
NOTE: Do NOT use your cell phone to keep track of the time! If you’re constantly checking the time on your phone then you are more likely to also be checking notifications which will mean less study time and more distractions. Instead, use a digital or analog clock while studying.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you are comfortable! If you are physically uncomfortable, you aren’t going to be able to focus on the material in your textbooks. Try to ensure that you’ve got a comfortable chair to sit in while studying and if possible, wear comfortable clothing such as PJs, sweatpants, or yoga pants.
Furthermore, this rule also extends to mental comfort as well! If you’re feeling particularly stressed or you notice that you have a lot of things on your mind that are distracting you from your studies, try to take a 15 minute mindful meditation break. Breathe deeply and be mindful of the things causing you stress while simultaneously letting those thoughts go. This practice can be extremely helpful when it comes to relaxing and eliminating stress, both of which are essential to increasing concentration!
I hope that these tips will be useful to some of you as you head off to your first year of university/college or return to school in the fall! I know that I have been making some changes to my study space to get myself back into the swing of things for grad school so I hope that these tips will help you as well!