There have been countless articles on study skills that tell you the place you study is one of the biggest factors of your productivity during the time you study. Usually the advice looks something like this:
1. Study in the same place every day
2. Don’t study in bed
3. Be away from noise and distractions
4. Have all important supplies around your study place.
I have read maybe 30, probably more, articles that say these four things. As I was a straight A student up until I entered the tenth grade, I didn’t listen to these. I would sit in our den on the comfortable couch with a bottle of water and my computer in front of me. I checked my Facebook, went on AIM, checked my email and talked to my mom while she made dinner and helped my brother do his homework in the kitchen. I got my work done in about four hours, because I was never completely focused on the work I was doing. Last year I got by doing the same thing, but my grades dropped. I was getting B’s for the first time, and I failed a final, which was the biggest shock of my life. I hadn’t changed my study habits, but I had changed schools. Sophomore year went by without damaging my transcript too badly, but I saw that there was definitely a problem. Over the summer my mom put my sister who is now in college’s old desk in my room, right in front of the window. In the corner next to the desk there is a shelf, and on the other side of the desk is my bed. This, to me, is the ideal study space. Here’s why:
1. The Desk. Get a desk that is big enough for you to spread your work out comfortably. If your school is like mine and has laptops, you need a desk you can put your laptop and textbook on without having to flip the book opened and closed repeatedly. Personally I spread my work out a lot because seeing everything helps me to manage my time properly, so I need a huge desk. It’s also useful to get a large desk calendar (you can get them for about $5 at staples). When you sit down to study you will be able to see all upcoming tests and events, and plan your time accordingly. The legs of my desk also act as shelves, which is useful for storing things I need a lot such as my stapler, my glasses, pens, a calculator, and extra loose leaf. Don’t overcrowd shelves, because things need to be easily found. Make sure everything has a place so you can find things without wasting time. 🙂
2. Seating. Comfort is important when studying. You want to be comfortable enough to focus, but not comfortable in the sense that you could doze off. Pick a chair that suits your needs. If you like cushioned chairs, get one. If you like a plain wood chair, that’s fine too. I personally like chairs with wheels for mobility. They have cute cheap ones (mine is bright pink) at staples (yes, I swear by staples products, and I live there during the school year). It is important to choose a chair you like and that is comfortable, because you will be spending a lot of time there.
3. Shelving and Boxes. Next to your desk, make sure there is some form of storage or shelving. It will keep you from clutter and wasting time while you are doing your work. Set the shelves up in however way you like, it’s really up to you. Just remember to keep them organized and have a place for everything. I’m going to describe how I organize mine, just to give you an example. My shelf has a top and three shelves. The top shelf has a clock, so it can easily be seen while I’m working, and pictures (because my room is filled with them). The bottom shelf has reference books and things such as chargers that I don’t need at my hands that quickly. The middle shelf has two bins: one has my computer stuff that I need from time to time (like flash drives and an extra battery) and one has my study essentials: notecards, post-its, extra writing implements, rulers, etc. The top shelf is bare, except for my photoshop CD rom. I use this for books when I’m home from school, so that my desk and floor don’t get cluttered.
4. Bed next to the desk. My bed is directly next to my desk for two reasons: the first is so that when I’m studying for 7 hour periods (which I don’t recommend I’m a bit of a workaholic) and pulling all nighters, I can take a 20 minute power nap. The other reason is that I see my bed while I’m studying. Late nights of working on my term paper are easier when I have the motivation of a good night’s sleep in front of my face. My comfortable bed sitting there makes me work that much harder, so I can get to the reward that is so close, yet so far away.
Using this set up has raised my productiveness, and cut my study time almost in half! Less distractions and a well put together study area really do help in getting things done much quicker.