Your immediate environment has an appreciable impact on the way you think and act. Just consider how different you feel in a wide-open field than on a cramped and cluttered bus. The former puts you at ease while the latter jumpstarts your nerves.
The same principle can be applied to personal study space. When you’re surrounded by noise, mess, distractions and discomfort, your brain fights an uphill battle to stay focused.
Whether you’re looking to complete your degree at home this summer or you’re just getting a head start studying for next year, here are a few tips for optimizing your personal study space for academic success.
“Clean your surroundings and you clean your mind.” This oft-touted maxim couldn’t be truer when creating a study space. The more clutter you have around your desk, the less likely you are to focus, because, according to psychologists, visual clutter competes with our brain’s ability for attention.
And this doesn’t just apply to physical clutter. Those 25 open tabs on your browser have the same competing effect with your attention! Once you’ve chosen a dedicated study space, try to keep it as clear and clean as possible.
Light is an important element of your natural environment. Without it, your study space feels cramped, dingy and, frankly, pretty dismal. In choosing your optimal study space, look for a spot in the home with an abundance of natural light. Any light will do, but natural light gives you the added benefit of serotonin-boosting vitamin D.
If you can’t find a naturally lit part of the home for a study space, settle for one that at least has lots of light.
Noise is one of the most flagrant distractors. The whirring of a blender, the barking of a dog or the thudding of steps overhead can all cause you to lose focus. But the worst is chatter. Your brain naturally wants to extract meaning from your surroundings, so when language is happening around you – whether it’s your parents talking or your favourite artist rapping on the radio – your attention will divert to make sense of it.
That’s why it’s imperative that you set your study space up somewhere free of chatter. And keep your music selections to instrumentals only!
Access to Resources
You want everything in arm’s reach. The moment you have to stand up, walk out the room and hunt for the material you need, you’ve already lost whatever momentum you built. Textbooks, writing utensils, computers, chargers, workbooks, water, snacks – make your study space a one-stop-shop for everything you could possibly need while studying.
It’s difficult to focus through the discomfort. If you’ve ever had a headache during a test, you’ll understand the struggle.
While headaches are mostly unavoidable (save from staying hydrated), you can avoid the discomfort of incorrect posture. Sit up straight, preferably in either an ergonomic chair or a regular chair with a lumbar insert, and make a point to stand up every once in a while. Not only will you be in a better (literal) position to learn, but your spine will thank you as well!
Studying is an act of intense concentration and application. In order to pull it off successfully, you should free your environment of distraction and discomfort. Happy studying!