The first step towards effective studying is to create a study environment that fosters productivity. An ideal study environment varies from person to person, but considering these five factors will help you to create your perfect study environment:
To create your ideal study environment, start by choosing an appropriate location to work. Some locations that you might find beneficial include your dorm room, the university library, the public library, private studies/lounges in dorms, empty classrooms, or even Starbuck’s. If you are having trouble choosing between these locations, you may wish to compare them using the Study Environment Analysis from Virginia Tech.
Once you’ve decided on a location, pick a spot that seems comfortable to you. Do you work best at a desk, table, bed, or couch? Keep in mind that comfy places like beds and sofas might be more conducive to sleeping than studying, so don’t get too comfortable! Another factor to consider is “closed” or “open” structure. Which is more appealing to you, a table in a large, open room or a closed cubicle that isolates you from distractions? Choosing your location and paying attention to these details is a vital step in creating your desirable study environment.
AtmosphereAfter you have chosen a location, decide what type of atmosphere works best for you. Factors to consider are:
1. Noise – some students prefer complete quiet, while others like soft background music or ambient noise. Baroque classical music or jazz work extremely well in these cases, and you can access them through an internet radio program like Pandora. If you prefer quiet, noise-reducing headphones might be helpful, but you may have to change your location if other students’ noise preferences are disruptive to you.
2. Lighting – harsh bright light is often unpleasant, while soft, ambient light can put you to sleep. Try to find a happy medium between the two to create the atmosphere that seems comfortable to you.
3. Temperature -- while you cannot often control the temperature of the room that you are in, try to find a place with a fairly consisstent temperature. You can also adjust your personal temperature by carrying a light jacket with you or by moving closer to a window or vent. Keep in mind that cold temperatures may feel harsh and distracting, but warm temperatures may make you lethargic. Try to find a balance.
Another aspect of your study environment involves whether you work best alone or in a group. If you prefer to study with a group of people, some factors you will need to consider are location, planning, time of day, and the assignment you are working on. Group rooms on the lower floor of Hunter Library or unoccupied classrooms are perfect for group studying and for working on group assignments. Just make sure you are not distracting others and that you are effectively working together to complete the assignment with minimal distractions.
Consider the resources you will need when you sit down to study. If you need to use your computer or to work online, make sure your study environment has internet access and electrical outlets. If you study in your room, make sure all of your materials are easily accessible, and if you study outside of your room, remember to carry your textbooks, notes, paper, pens, highlighters, etc. You may also wish to have a snack on hand for your study breaks. If you’re hungry, you will probably have a hard time concentrating on the task at hand. Healthy foods like fruit and water are better than sugary foods with lots of carbohydrates, as these can make you sleepy and unfocused.
Despite your best efforts to create an ideal study environment, you may need to deal with some distractions to ensure you create an environment that allows you to be focused and productive:
1. Discuss designated study times with roommtes or suitemates to reduce noise distractions.
2. Keep your study environment uncluttered so that you can find your resources and remain focused.
3. Eliminate distractions such as cell phones, Facebook, Myspace, Skype, and instant messaging that may tempt you to procrastinate.
4. Be consistent! Once you find a study environment that works well for you, use it regularly to ensure your academic success.
...composed by Carmen Ramsey and Aly Witter, 2010.